For the holidays, LINC and its school district and community partners have created opportunities throughout the Kansas City area for families to come together to celebrate the holidays and support their community.
Artis Rollins and his family are starting the new year with a new home after being the 2015 recipient of a brand new house provided through Connections for Success-Constructing Futures.
“This is the best Christmas in the world, I couldn’t ask for anything else,” Rollins said during a Fox 4 News interview.
Rollins received the keys to his new house at a ceremony held at the Marlborough Community Center.
“I thought maybe it was just another interview to see if I qualified for the house,” Rollins said to Fox 4 News.
Photos submitted by Richard Williams.
This is the seventh house given to a community resident from Connections for Success-Constructing Futures since 2008. The critical issues for the Jackson County Constructing Futures are to address vacant houses, unemployed individuals, and homelessness.
“It was very, very touching. He had no idea he was going to get the house,” said LINC Site Coordinator and Marlborough Community Coalition member Richard Williams. “He kind of froze for a second and put his hands up to his face. He works two jobs and he works for the city. He and his family were homeless for two to three weeks. I also believe he lived in a motel for a few weeks at some point.”
Rollins' two daughters are kindergartners at Center Elementary, where Williams is a site coordinator.
“This is the kind of thing we talk about at the Marlborough Community Coalition: how can we help the most in the community." Williams said.
Home Depot and the Neighborhood Housing Services of Kansas City also partnered to provide the house.
See more photos on the Marlborough Community Coalition Facebook page.
LINC Caring Communities in the Fort Osage School District once again came together to support Fort families through the Holiday Assistance program.
One hundred and sixty families and 379 kids received a gift, clothes, shoes, and food to enjoy this holiday season.
"We know our kids in our community are taken care of," said Buckner Elementary LINC Site Coordinator Connie Fields.
LINC Caring Communities has worked with five Fort Osage elementary schools to provide food and gifts to families in need through the Holiday Assistance program for several years.
To become eligible to receive Holiday Assistance, families had to serve three hours of volunteer service at a Fort Osage school or LINC event before December 7. "The hours aren't a punishment," said Fields. "We just want them to feel involved and to come into the schools."
Fort Osage churches and the Mayor's Christmas Tree offer similar services to Fort Osage families during the holidays. LINC works to serve in the same capacity and to coordinate the families in the community.
"We are able to work with a lot of organizations to create a bigger impact, which helps to benefit more people," said Blue Hills Elementary LINC Site Coordinator Ken Lingelbach.
Benefiting Fort Osage families is what the Holiday Assistance program is about.
The effort was supported in part by donors from the Fort Osage community. "They appreciate that the gifts are staying in the community," said Jeanette Shewmaker, LINC liaison at Blue Hills Elementary.
In preparation of the Holiday Assistance, each Fort Osage LINC site has a holiday tree hung with tags with a child's name and an item the child would like to receive; community members can select a tag and then purchase a gift for the child (there is a $25 limit). Clothes and shoes are provided through local churches, and the holiday meal of turkey/ham, stuffing, cake mixes, and more is provided through LINC and food drives.
"This is the first year where all my food for Holiday Assistance was provided through donations," said Indian Trials LINC Site Coordinator Kristin Potter.
Holiday Assistance orders were fulfilled on Dec. 16. "We were here at Elm Grove preparing the last of the orders until 11 o'clock," said Elm Grove LINC Site Coordinator Kate Barber. "It's great being able to serve the community in this way.
Any extra food will be used to supply the food pantry at Cler-Mont, where Tracy Luna is the LINC Site Coordinator.
Above: Food pantry at Cler-Mont Elementary in the Fort Osage School District.
Contact your local LINC Site Coordinator to learn more about the Holiday Assistance program.
Fifteen Ingels Elementary School families in Hickman Mills received holiday baskets of food to enjoy during the holidays.
Families were selected, with assistance from Ingels principal Dr. Sabrina Tillman Winfrey, based on need. LINC supplied each basket with turkey, ham, bread, potatoes, macaroni and cheese, green beans, marshmallows, and more.
“When they came in, some families let us know that they wouldn’t have been able to have Christmas dinner because of the hardships that they’re in,” said LINC Site Coordinator Carl Wade. “It was a powerful moment.”
Learn more about LINC in Hickman Mills.
School communities across Independence have been active during December celebrating and preparing for the holidays. Mallinson and Fairmount elementary schools celebrated their diverse communities at Mallinson's Christmas Around the World Celebration and the second annual Fairmount Christmas Block Party.
Sugar Creek residents supported the community through Wrapping Gifts for Kids. Representatives from United Consumers Credit Union, Revive Church, and the Sugar Creek Fire Department wrapped more than 700 books, provided by First Book, to be given to Mallinson Elementary students by Santa before winter break. Each student received two books.
Van Horn High School LINC Student Ambassadors co-directed a Los Posadas Spanish Christmas play for Christmas Around the World at Mallinson. Van Horn and Nowlin site council members continued the celebrations during the community caroling at Maywood Terrace Senior Living Facility.