INDEPENDENCE, Mo. – Christmas might be a week away, but the holiday came early for dozens of kids in the metro Tuesday night.
Nearly 70 children from KCK got to check off their wish lists at the Shop with the FOX4 Love Fund event at Walmart on Bolger Road in Independence — and they were joined by some professional athletes.
“When someone reaches out to you and says, ‘I wanted you have Christmas or wanted you to have a nice holiday season,’ it’s nice to know you’re not forgotten,” said Veronica Champion, the development coordinator for the FOX4 Love Fund.
Alongside the children, who were each given $100 stipends, were players from the Kansas City Chiefs, including punter Dustin Colquitt, kicker Harrison Butker and tight end Nick Keizer.
“You know, I’ve been blessed, and sharing my time with them is the least I can do,” Keizer said. “When I was growing up, if I ever got the chance to see a football player that was awesome. I hope it means a lot.”
Jessica Smith, who is the McKinney-Vento Liaison for KCK Public Schools, said it does mean a lot to these kids.
“Some of them didn’t know until they came into the office today, so it was exciting,” she said.
Smith said it’s a win anytime a child, who doesn’t have a lot, gets the chance to escape their situation at home and simply be a kid.
“They just don’t get the time, especially the big ones, who have little siblings and often times single parents are working a lot,” she explained. “Today, they get to be a kid. They get to eat pizza, they get to have cookies, look at toys. They just get to be a kid.”
Roughly two dozen other volunteers from seven different local organizations also attended Tuesday’s event. Smith said their generosity means the world to those who aren’t as fortunate.
“I don’t think people who donate or who help out understand how much they touch people’s lives doing these things. Love Fund is just amazing,” she added.
The holiday season is the busiest time for the FOX4 Love Fund. Wednesday is another big day for the organization, when volunteers fill sacks for more than 1,300 teens for this year’s Sack it for Santa program.