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City Union Mission volunteers deliver thousands of gifts throughout Kansas City area

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The season of giving brings Kansas Citians together.

"Mission Christmas" has provided Christmas gifts and meals to the metro's less-fortunate families for more than two decades, all thanks to the City Union Mission, where no one spends the holiday without a gift.

When the Mission's big red bags leave, Christmas cheer is sure to follow. Every holiday season, volunteers from the City Union Mission arrange for delivery of thousands of Christmas gifts.

Dennis Chapman, the Mission's chief development officer, says this year, 20,000 wrapped gifts will be bagged up and delivered by volunteers throughout the city. Those volunteer groups, some of which are made of families, friends and co-workers, deliver large sacks of gifts, items the recipient has selected from the Mission's store.

"It's just amazing to watch the shelves empty and then, the shelves to fill up," Chapman said.

Seeing the shelves empty means items are being distributed to the public. Every 15 minutes, a team of volunteers would leave the Mission with a delivery, often existing of gifts and food impoverished families depend on.

"A city like Kansas City is just such a generous community. We don't think anyone should be hungry," Chapman said.

Chapman says this is the first time the mission has provided turkeys, adding to the food baskets families already receive.

Olathe's Sally Bodenheimer and her loved ones have delivered Mission Christmas gifts for six years running. She says she never knows where she'll be assigned, or where the big red bag will be used to spread Christmas cheer.

"A lot of get caught up in what we're getting for Christmas, and the bigger gifts. These are smaller gifts that we can give to these kids who don't have as much as we do," Bodenheimer said,

And amid the chaos of outgoing deliveries on Thursday morning, donations continued to arrive. Kerry Claussen and his family stopped by the Mission's warehouse, and donated 40 coats for kids in need.

"We know there are people who are hurting and don't have the appropriate cold weather attire and we wanted to provide that," Claussen said.

If Chapman's playing Santa, Mission Christmas' hundreds of volunteers are the elves. Chapman says more than 900 families throughout the metro will receive these gifts, and it's people who make it possible.

Most of the donated holiday gifts cost between $15-20 apiece. Every guest staying in the Mission's shelters will also receive a free Christmas gift as part of this program.