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Neighbors helping neighbors: where to give or get help in Kansas City this winter

·4 min read

The WyCo Mutual Aid group was born out of neighbors’ desire to help each other. Founded in 2020, the grassroots group coordinates donations of time, money and other resources to help out those in need in Wyandotte County. Co-founders Dustin Hare and Kimberly Weaver are continuing their mission of “solidarity, not charity” throughout the holiday season.

They said WyCo mutual aid volunteers go door-to-door in Wyandotte County to see what people need, and they get bulk food to put together meals for the unhoused.

“It was just really given a formal name to what people in Wyandotte County already do,” Weaver said. “We already are the kind of people that borrow from each other. My neighbor just came over to get a can opener.”

While the WyCo Mutual Aid group is open to accepting donated items, they prefer cash so they can put the money in the hands of those who need it. For example, Weaver said someone who was unhoused requested new shoes, and the group got her the funds to be able to pick out and buy a new pair.

If you’re in the Wyandotte County area and need help, WyCo Mutual Aid’s Facebook group is the place to join, as residents are assisting each other every day. The group also post the needs of others on Twitter, and takes donations through their Cash App and PayPal.

Like WyCo Mutual Aid, other organizations in Kansas City are providing help to those who could use a hand during the winter months. The Star’s service team put together a small list of who’s out there, what they do and how you can get involved.

Give a gift

The Magic Tree in Lee’s Summit is open for the eighth holiday season. This year, they’re partnering with Veterans Funeral Care for Operation Toy Soldier. Their mission is to provide toys to children of deployed and non-deployed military personnel.

The Magic Tree is asking people to bring a new, unused and unwrapped toy or to make a donation here. Any Magic Tree merchandise purchased will go to The Magic Tree Foundation, which benefits Operation Toy Soldier and those that can use some assistance.

Catholic Charities of Kansas City is a local organization working to support people on a pathway out of poverty. It’s currently hosting their annual Christmas Shining Star campaign that provides gifts to families in need.

Here’s how you can help with the campaign:

  • You can “adopt” a child and purchase gifts off of their wish list. Catholic Charities suggests around five to six items totaling up to $60. Then, you can either bring those gifts to their office or arrange for them to pick it up.

  • You can purchase frequently requested gifts, like basketballs or art supplies, from Amazon, Walmart or another retailer and have that item shipped directly to them.

  • You can make a financial donation, and their staff and volunteers will do the shopping.

Catholic Charities is also hosting a free food distribution drive in Independence at 9 a.m. on Dec. 18 and is going to open a new pantry and assistance in southern Kansas City soon.

The new food pantry and all current pantries are open to anyone who lives in the 27 counties Catholic Charities covers. You must be able to provide identification when you arrive as well.

Catholic Charities of Kansas City is always looking for volunteers to help. If you’re interested in helping, use the form here.

Stay Warm

Looking for a winter coat or wanting to donate your old coat? The City of Kansas City announced a new way for people to drop off coats, blankets and other necessities for the winter months.

Shelters, outreach workers and advocacy groups came together to create a centralized drop-off location at 1700 East 8th Street.

From noon to 6 p.m. on Monday through Friday, and 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday, the city is accepting the following items for people in need:

  • New thermal tops and bottoms

  • New sweatshirts and sweatpants

  • New socks

  • New shoes or boots

  • New face coverings

  • New scarves

  • Hand and foot warmers

  • New sleeping bags and blankets, mylar blankets

Wyandot Behavioral Health Network is also hosting a coat drive, and they’re asking for people to make a donation, as they’ll do the shopping themselves. Coats and other donated accessories will be delivered to individuals served by Wyandot BHN, PACES, Frank Williams Outreach Center, RSI and Kim Wilson Housing.

If you’d rather donate an item in person, there are three drop-off locations. They’re open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekdays until Dec. 17.

  • PACES - 7840 Washington Ave., Kansas City, Kansas

  • Wyandot Center - 1301 N. 47th St., Kansas City, Kansas

  • Wyandot BHN - 757 Armstrong Ave., Kansas City, Kansas

The Welcome House, a recovery center for men, started their Winter Warm-Up Clothing Drive to ensure their residents have proper winter wear. They’re asking people to consider donating new or gently worn items, such as:

  • Winter hats

  • Gloves

  • Coats

  • Sweats, sweatshirts and sweaters

  • New underwear and socks

  • Boots

To schedule a donation pick-up, the Welcome House is asking people to call their number, which can be found here. You can also volunteer to help with their services.

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