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The Love Fund – 40 Years Of Love

The Love Fund has been a treasured organization in the Kansas City metro since 1981. As the organization celebrates its 40-year history, it is not without a look back at the foundation of the mission and its immeasurable impact on our community.

The Love Fund’s origin story began with a weekly news segment on Fox 4 News called “Thursday’s Child.” The segment, which was well received by viewers, spotlighted a foster child in need of assistance. Viewers who were touched by the story would often send financial support to the station to help meet the child’s needs. As contributions continued to flow in, the leadership at Fox 4 quickly realized the donations and overall goodwill of the community exceeded the monthly coverage and the station’s capacity. The Love Fund was created from the desire to step in when there was a gap in services for some of Kansas City’s most vulnerable citizens.

With $1,200 in donations, Fox 4 became the Love Fund for Children’s founding partner and established the organization’s not-for-profit status. Since that time, the Love Fund has consistently been a part of Kansas City’s charitable landscape. It is known for several key events, including Back to School, Thanksgiving, Sack it for Santa, and Shop with the Love Fund. Each event engages community partners to maximize the number of children and families who are served.

The Doolin family experienced a house fire, and the Love Fund was able to support them with new clothing and other items.

The four signature events have thrived during the years and have become annual traditions for many. The televised Back-to-School Drive occurs in July and the funds raised are used to provide backpacks, uniforms, and school supplies to thousands of kindergarten to grade 12 students. The annual Thanksgiving Celebration provides homeless families with a holiday dinner, a week’s worth of groceries, and a brand new winter coat for each child. The Sack it for Santa event focuses on providing gifts for disadvantaged teens (ages 12 to 18 years old), a population that is often overlooked during the holidays and goes without gifts. More than 2,000 teens are recipients of gift bags with cold weather protection, a hygiene kit, socks, a sweet treat, and a holiday gift. One of the most beloved annual activities is the Shop with the Love Fund event, when the organization partners with local heroes to provide more than 60 children with a $100 Walmart gift card to use to shop for special gifts. The Kansas City Chiefs, Chiefs Ambassadors, Jackson County Sheriff’s Department, and Disney Princesses are some of the local heroes who have participated in the event. 

More than just providing resources for children and families, the Love Fund seeks to empower families, treat children with dignity, and create a low barrier to access for obtaining key resources. The Love Fund has long identified families who may be in need but do not qualify for traditional assistance. While individuals who learn about the Love Fund’s work are almost always surprised by the organization’s impact and scope of services, that lack of knowledge is not completely surprising or unexpected. As a founding principle, the Love Fund supports from behind the scenes. Children often do not know where their gifts come from, and families are not required to provide a picture or testimonial about their experiences. The focus is on empowering families—where they are—during their time of need.

 

Cooper Lauck, Patrick McAnulty, Chase McAnulty, and Chance Moore at the 2021 annual Golf Classic.

The Love Fund’s team has evolved during the years, but it still maintains a small team who is responsible for the vision and execution of the services. Amanda Jackson recently joined the organization in June 2021. She serves as its executive director alongside Veronica Champion, the Love Fund’s development director. When asked about joining the Love Fund team, Amanda said, “I have long admired the work at the Love Fund and am so excited to be part of this team. I believe the compassion and commitment to the well-being of Kansas City children is unparalleled, and we look forward to another 40 years of empowering families and helping children thrive.” The organization is able to meet its goals and continue to support the community due to the partnerships and collaborations with other organizations and businesses in the metro. Amanda went on to say, “We are fortunate to have so many child champions supporting our efforts. We truly could not do this work without our community and always appreciate the opportunity to meet new friends who want to help children in Kansas City.” It is this on-going dedication to being a servant leader that has contributed to Amanda’s early success in her new role.

Matt Stewart, Fox 4; Amanda Jackson, Love Fund for Children; Board Member Marie Ramirez, and Nicole Collier-White at the 2021 Back to School drive.

 

Allyson Summers, immediate past executive director, with Board Member Kathleen Kuluva at the 2019 It’s in the Bag Auction

The impact of the Love Fund is undeniable. The organization noted that it has impacted more than 42,100 children, seen a 740 percent increase in program reach, delivered in excess of 155,486 COVID relief items, distributed 6,651 backpacks and school supplies, and provided more than 1,500 holiday gifts.

The stories of the families who have benefited from the Love Fund’s services are numerous. The impact of the support often transcends that moment and affects lasting change. One such example is the Doolin family. Following a devastating house fire, the Doolins, who are a loving family with seven children, found themselves without a home as they sought out affordable housing. During their transition, they resided with another family and eventually landed in a long-term hotel. The siblings, ranging in age from three to 18, spent their days doing virtual school from a crowded hotel room. The family reached out to the Love Fund to seek assistance in obtaining new beds, mattresses, and linens. One year later, the Doolins are now in their own home and continue to utilize the beds provided by the Love Fund.

Santa with Board Member David Lauck

Board Member Kerri Stowell noted, “I’m proud to be part of an organization that lifts up families in our community. Times are tough, and now more than ever needs are growing. But the Love Fund continues to be dedicated to improving the quality of life for the kids it serves. That’s something to be admired.” The need for the mission of the Love Fund was crucial in 1981 and continues to be a vital service for our community today. As the community’s needs continue to change during the pandemic and beyond, the Love Fund is committed to evolving to meet these needs. It also remains committed to bridging the gap in youth services by partnering with advocates to help children across Kansas City.

Read more in the November 13, 2021 issue of The Independent
By Nicole Jacobs Silvey

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