The need was born in a tiny, dirt-floor dwelling in rural Edgerton, Kansas.  And the vision took hold in the heart of a humble, kind-hearted man.  In the winter of 1984, Daniel Jacobs drove to western Johnson County to tell a family that KCPL had to cut off their electricity for lack of payment.  He had done it before, and he would need to do it again but this particular family’s plight haunted him.  With Christmas approaching, he knew he had to find some way to help!  Stirred by Daniel’s passion, within eight days his family, friends and co-workers had donated so many gifts and so much food that his garage was overflowing.  That first year, three families were blessed with the magic of Christmas.      

 

After experiencing this measure of generosity from others, Daniel knew he was on to something!  Over the years, his outreach grew.  More and more families were helped—and the garages in his cul de sac were filled to the brim with items for others.

 

A couple of years later, a fortuitous encounter with a social worker inspired Daniel to extend his outreach and the Red Bags portion of Christmas Families was launched.  Foster kids on both sides of the state line became recipients of large red bags stuffed with things they needed such as warm clothing and school supplies and items they longed for like remote-control cars, Barbies and Legos.

 

Thirty-four years later, this grassroots organization continues to bring the spirit of the holidays to more than 50 families and 1500 foster kids every December.  Individuals, faith communities, businesses and organizations look over a child’s wish list, choose the items, shop for just the right things and add the wrapped gifts to the Red Bag for special delivery on Christmas morning.

 

In the words of one sponsor, “Red Bag Delivery day is the day each year when the Christmas Season truly begins for me!  I can’t EVEN IMAGINE a Christmas without this program!”

 

Christmas Families was incorporated as a 501© 3 organization in 1992.  Today it proudly continues as an all-volunteer entity.  With the exception of a handful of hard expenses such as printing and other support materials, 100% of donations are used to buy gifts and food for families and foster children.  Visit redbagskc.com for more information.

 

Sadly, Daniel Jacobs passed away in 2017—but what a legacy he left!  Christmas Families is his gift to us.  We honor his generous spirit each time we adopt a family or foster child and are blessed to help carry on the rich tradition he began.

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