The Kansas Children’s Service League, now celebrating its 125th year, will hold its annual Red Stocking Breakfast on Sunday to raise money for its local and area programs.

The buffet breakfast will run from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Clarion Inn, 1911 E. Kansas Ave., and will be one of seven KCSL breakfasts across western, central and eastern Kansas, said Cecilia Douglass, KCSL grant development manager. Tickets are $10 if ordered in advance online and $12 at the door.

“The focus of our organization is to strengthen the families and the impact that that has on our community when we have strong families, I don’t think there’s anything that can beat that …” Douglass said. “Everything that we raise does stay local, so it really does directly influence our programs.”

This year marks the breakfast’s second year after a short hiatus in Garden City and Liberal amidst logistical and fundraising restructuring of the Head Start programs, Douglass said.

Douglass said this year’s breakfast still will be a smaller-scale version of what the breakfast used to be — a sweeping social event where community leaders and small-town celebrities stepped in as servers — but the organization anticipated boosting the event back up to that level in coming years. This weekend, members of the Horace Good Middle School Junior Leadership Corp will instead step in on the hospitality side, she said.

This year, there’s no set funding goal in mind, Douglass said. The real effort is to get the event once again up and running.

The event will include a silent auction and coincide with the league’s car giveaway from Sharp Honda Topeka, where contestants can purchase limited tickets for an online raffle to celebrate the 125th anniversary.

All of the breakfast’s proceeds will benefit Garden City-area KCSL programs, which primarily support early childhood education and health and family services, Douglass said. Locally, the organization primarily offers its early education Head Start program, available in both classrooms around the city and through home-based lessons, she said.

Throughout 10 southwest Kansas counties — Finney, Grant, Gray, Haskell, Kearny, Scott, Seward, Stanton, Stevens and Wichita counties — the KCSL serves 517 children.

Locally, the organization is grappling with the “dire need of childcare,” Douglass said. The goal is to start after-school programs from the end of the school day to the end of a typical work day, giving children a chance to emphasize learning while their parents are at work. With a childcare partnership grant from the Department for Children and Families, KCSL also can work with childcare partners to establish new agencies in the area, she said. Securing funds through donations or other means would help the programs along, she said.

“We’re taking the steps, and I think if we were able to get over that line where we either find the funds or connect with the providers, that’s when the real impact is going to start,” Douglass said.

Douglass said family strengthening efforts through those programs also better equip families to cope with stress, anxiety, financial struggles and other issues in a healthy way, which makes child abuse less likely.

All Head Start programs in the area work to empower families and protect children, and there is a palpable local need for their work, Douglass said.

“There are a ton of families that rely on us for childcare so that they can work, and if anything were to happen and we weren’t able to serve that family, that could have serious economic implications, especially if we can’t provide services to multiple children at one time,” she said. “If they cut many kids, that could just cripple a lot of families, and I think we’ve been doing a fantastic job connecting families with resources and helping make a difference in a lot of lives.”

 

Contact Amber Friend at afriend@gctelegram.com.