This weekend, Della Lamb Community Services persevered with its 48th year celebrating the holiday season by helping community residents.
Due to challenges posed by COVID-19, this year’s event was unlike any in 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 combined 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 received 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 received a Thanksgiving meal and miscellaneous holiday items, distributed by case workers.
Leading up to the event, Della Lamb staff and volunteers assembled food, toys, clothes, family bags, and holiday celebration bags based on the details for each family as provided in the registration form.
On Friday, Missouri National Guard recruiters joined Della Lamb volunteers to load the gifts, food and supplies into recipiant’s cars. The group of recruiters from across the state volunteer every chance they get, but especially around the holidays.
Due to COVID-19, rather than solicit turkey donations, Della Lamb 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 estimated a cost of $20 for each large toy provided to a child, and tried to meet specific requests for hopeful children.
“It is our great privilege to serve Kansas City with you,” according to the organization. “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.”