Operation Save KC aims to curb violence through faith and fun

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- On the heels of a week riddled with crime, people in Kansas City said their Operation Save KC event came at a perfect time. This weekend's joint community effort took aim at tackling the city's rise in violence.

Independence Pastor Billy Tharp said, "We’re not from Kansas City, so we come and find local ministries in Kansas City that want to be involved in the vision."

Tharp coordinated with about a dozen metro ministries to put on Operation Save KC: a free event that brought people out to share love, principles of Christianity, and family fun. "We believe when we work together we can do greater things," said Tharp.

Following a week of nearly a dozen shootings in Kansas City organizers said now is more important than ever to invest in young people. At the event, 18-year-old Steven Lee won a bike in a drawing. He noticed 12-year-old Abdisalam. That's when Lee gave the boy the prized possession he'd just won.

Lee said, "This kid's value is much more important to me than the bicycle. That bicycle, it’s just a bicycle man. Compassion for people is more important than that." Abdisalam peddled away with his mother, cousins, and friends following closely with excitement; smiles worn by the whole group.

Tharp said the exchange was a perfect illustration of the event's purpose. "They’ll take that hope. Like you just saw here with that young man who gave that bike away. That’s going to change his life and the other man’s life for the rest of it."

It's that lasting impact of positivity, sharing, teaching, and loving on one another that organizers say will let KC rise above being a city caught up in crime. "The violence in the area that we do this is none or goes down dramatically. So we believe if we keep doing this and work together, together, that we can stop the violence one step at a time."