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Hold On To Unwanted Clothes And Furniture, Kansas City — Donate Diapers Instead

Laura Spencer
KCUR 89.3
Operation Breakthrough staffers Jochelle Taylor (left) and Jessica Kibby load up supplies for clients.

Kansas City area residents who are doing their spring cleaning while under the metro-wide stay at home order will likely have trouble getting rid of their unwanted items.

All of the organizations that typically take donations — Big Brothers Big Sisters, Catholic Charities, Disabled Americans Veterans, Goodwill, Jewish Vocational Services, Red Racks Thrift Store, Savers and the Salvation Army — have closed their offices, or are not accepting donations or scheduling pickups due to the coronavirus pandemic. Planet Aid, with its bright yellow bins for donating clothes and shoes, has suspended operations in about nine states around the country, including Missouri and Kansas.

But other area organizations are in need of some specific items that residents might have on hand — or would be grateful for donations from people who just want to help.

"(It) sounds funny but we have a big need for M&M's and plastic ice cube trays," says Lee Duckett, director of marketing and events for Operation Breakthrough.

The daycare and educational program at 31st and Troost continues to offer services for families in the urban core, including childcare. This week, Duckett says, preschool children will "learn math, sorting, patterns, and colors with M&M's and plastic ice cube trays," which is why the organization is looking for 242 trays and 242 regular sized packages of M&M's.

Duckett also keeps a current list of needs on the organization's blog. Besides M&M's and ice trays, the nonprofit continues to seek donations of food items, such as canned soups, meats, cereal, vegetables and fruit, and pasta and sauce. It also needs diapers (sizes 1, 2, 4, & 5) and pull-ups, as well as cleaning supplies and toilet paper.

Credit Laura Spencer / KCUR 89.3
KCUR 89.3
Cars of families, like this mother, Brittany and her daughter, Zyniah, lined up Monday outside Operation Breakthrough to pick up groceries and other supplies.

"Of course, toilet paper is high on the list but might be hard to find," Duckett says.

A bin will be placed inside the front door for donations from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. to limit social contact.

Other types of donations in high demand this week:

Blood: Libraries, churches, hospitals and other businesses around the metro are hosting blood drives for the American Red Cross (schedule donations by appointment). Community Blood Center is also scheduling donations by appointment only. "Blood donation is essential to ensuring the health of our communities, and we sincerely appreciate those who have stepped up to answer the call amid the COVID-19 outbreak," the Red Cross says on its website.

Money: Harvesters, the regional food bank, says financial donations are the most effective way to meet community needs. The organization is no longer able to welcome volunteers from church or school groups, or people under 18, but shifts are still available in Kansas City and Topeka, in groups of 10.

Credit Peggy Lowe / KCUR 89.3
KCUR 89.3
Kansas City area residents have been dropping off their unwanted items at bins that are now overflowing. Some organizations aren't able to service the bins, and they're closed with plastic sheets.

Other businesses, including area restaurants, are stepping up and in some cases reinventing themselves during the coronavirus era.

Donutology in Westport's Care to Share program, for example, sends a "donut-filled care package" to local fire and police stations and hospitals. Each care package costs about $20, plus tax (and $2 will be donated to Operation Breakthrough) and includes an inspirational message. And Bo Lings Chinese restaurant is donating 100 meals a week to staff members at University of Kansas Health System. If you'd like to contribute, you can chip in $50 for five meals for their "Pay it Forward Partner Meals."

Related: These Kansas City Restaurants Are Feeding The Hungry As Their Industry Takes A Hit

Skills: On Friday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that people wear cloth face coverings in public settings. You can make masks with materials on hand, such as a T-shirt or a bandana, with a variety of templates to follow online (such as this one from The New York Times). Meanwhile, the Kansas City-based furniture maker Madison Flitch has converted its workshop studio into a mask-making operation. For each fabric mask sold at $16, one will be donated to a healthcare professional. 

Related: Kansas City Area Crafters Rush Into Action Making Masks For Health Care Workers

And, by all means, take out your trash. 

"We realize with so many working from home and also conducting spring cleanings this time of year, it was important to help ensure everyone’s trash is removed properly,” says Michael Shaw, Kansas City, Missouri's solid waste division manager, in a release.

The city is offering an extra no-tag week of trash collection from April 13-17. Residents can place up to 12 bags at the curb, instead of the usual two-bag trash limit. 

"About 70% of what we pick up now could be recycled," Shaw adds, "and, there’s no limit on recycling pick-up.”

Laura Spencer is an arts reporter at KCUR 89.3. You can follow her on Twitter at @lauraspencer.

Kansas City is known for its style of jazz, influenced by the blues, as the home of Walt Disney’s first animation studio and the headquarters of Hallmark Cards. As one of KCUR’s arts reporters, I want people here to know a wide range of arts and culture stories from across the metropolitan area. I take listeners behind the scenes and introduce them to emerging artists and organizations, as well as keep up with established institutions. Send me an email at lauras@kcur.org or follow me on Twitter @lauraspencer.
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