This weekend, Della Lamb Community Services will launch its 48th year celebrating the holiday season by helping the community.
Due to challenges posed by COVID-19, this year’s event will be unlike the past. On Friday, increased restrictions went into effect in Kansas City with Mayor Quinton Lucas’ latest Executive Order.
“In a time that featured citywide restrictions on activity, mask wearing, and the ever-present guidance to practice social distancing, the 2020 edition of Operation Holidays provides a beautiful reminder of the joy of gathering and importance of community,” according to the organization.
The 2020 Operation Holidays event will combine Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrations into a four-day event, from Nov. 20 through Nov. 24.
The organization anticipates approximately 2,500 participants, and registration ended in October. For purposes of planning and organization in this unique environment, registrations were limited to 500 families, plus 240 residents from local low-income elderly communities.
Families will receive a full Thanksgiving meal, toys and clothes for children 12 and younger, a bag including winter weather apparel and other miscellaneous goods, and a holiday celebration bag packed with wrapping paper and gift bags from Hallmark. The residents from elderly communities will receive a Thanksgiving meal and miscellaneous holiday items.
Leading up to the event, Della Lamb staff and volunteers assembled food bags, toy bags, clothes bags, family bags, and holiday celebration bags based on the details for each family as provided in the registration form.
On the days of the event, participating families will drive to Della Lamb, providing a copy of their registration form. Della Lamb staff and volunteers will retrieve the presorted items and provide to the family, while meals for residents in elderly communities will be distributed by their case workers.
Due to COVID-19, rather than solicit turkey donations, Della Lamb has purchased the turkeys and meals out of their own budget. With social distancing and an uptick of COVID-19 cases in the area, Della Lamb is calling on the community to donate funding to help them meet the needs of everyone who registered and recoup their budget.
“We have created a full menu, with quantities of items provided to each family varying based upon the size of each family,” according to Della Lamb. “Based on our menu, the average cost for each meal approximates $20 for families with 1-3 members, $35 for families with 4 to 6 members, and $50 for families with 7 to 10 members.”
Della Lamb has estimated a cost of $20 for each large toy provided to a child, and are trying to meet specific requests for hopeful children.
At the Della Lamb website, there is an Amazon shopping list that shows the types of toys the children hope to receive. Toy purchases can be made via Amazon and shipped directly to Della Lamb to allow for social distancing. Alternatively, toy donations can be brought to Della Lamb prior to the event.
Della Lamb relies on an army of volunteers to prepare for and serve at the event each year. Volunteer opportunities are now available on the website to pack, decorate and distribute.
“It is our great privilege to serve Kansas City with you,” according to Della Lamb. “For the vulnerable members of our city, this event is a tangible reminder that their city remembers them and cares for their well-being. Thank you for your efforts.”
On Friday, Missouri National Guard recruiters joined Della Lamb volunteers to load the gifts, food and supplies into peoples’ cars. They hope the rain will hold off Saturday, as they anticipate many visitors.