Amy Cunningham
The elves at city hall have been working overtime to prepare for the upcoming Christmas season, hoping their efforts ensure that area children don’t go without for the holidays.
While this is the 20th year for the Mayor’s Christmas for Children Program, this is the first year for the city to administer the charity, in previous years the Johnson County Multi-Service Center managed the service.  According to
Tana Johnson, administrative assistant for the City of Gardner and co-chair of this year’s program, when the county was no longer able to administer the program it was important to the Mayor that the city take the reigns.
Johnson said that 260 children will be served this Christmas, that number is comparable to the amount of children served last year.
“We’ve had more people volunteer to adopt children this year than we have children, so that is a good problem to have,” Johnson explained.  “Even though all of the children have been adopted, we’re still accepting monetary donations.”
Gardner Mayor Dave Drovetta is calling this year’s program 20 for 20, hoping to raise $20,000; $10,000 through community donations and, this year, the Capital Federal Foundation has promised to make up to a $10,000 match.  He says the city is nearly half way there.
Those wishing to make monetary donations, which will be used to provide families with gift cards to purchase food from a local grocery store, may go to Gardner City Hall, the Multi-Service Center and Gardner Chamber offices.
“We’re going to purchase Price Chopper gift cards to go with the gifts so the families who are being adopted can go out and buy food, the remaining funds will go towards rent and utility assistance through the Multi-Service Center.  Those funds will be transferred over to the Multi-Service Center,” explained Drovetta.  “That will really help because funding for the Multi-Service Center is down and there is a need for rent and utility assistance – I know there has been a need in 2010 and I’m confident that will continue through 2011.”
In order to secure privacy for those applying to participate in the program, the city held screenings over the weekends.  Applicants needed to provide proof of residency in the Gardner Edgerton School District and proof of all household income.  Once children qualified the parents were asked to provide three gift ideas per child as well as clothing sizes.
“The children’s wishes have gone out to the people who wanted to adopt,” said Johnson.  “We’ve had wonderful volunteers, who’ve helped us with screenings and to get gifts sorted and through processing.”