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Central Standard

Poverty on the Rise in Johnson County

The Johnson County Christmas Bureau, has opened its doors to their annual Holiday Shop at the Great Mall of the Great Plains in Olathe, KS. This is their 50th year creating a shopping experience for low income families around the holidays.

Director Barb McNeil says that “Poverty” and “Johnson County” aren’t words often heard in the same sentence, they should be. Though the population in Johnson County grew by 2% last year, the number of families below the poverty line grew by 64%.

After a year spent collecting donations and buying new toys, clothing, and personal care items, the long-awaited week-long shopping experience is available for thousands of clients.  Also available are groceries, gifts, books, and other goods for the holiday season and for day-to-day nourishment.

These clients are the low-income families of Johnson County.  This Holiday Shop allows these families the chance to provide gifts for their loved ones free of charge or for a small donation (called a “dignity fee”).

The volunteers are the key to what has kept this Shop going for 50 years.  With everything from their time and energy to their hand-crafted toys and winter garments, these volunteers provide thousands of families with the true spirit of the holidays.

The JCCB’s Holiday Shop closes its doors on December 13th and will begin collecting for next year’s event.  While they have enough volunteers, they are always in need of common household goods.  These include grocery items like flour, sugar, baby food, peanut butter, and macaroni and cheese.  Other things they could use are men’s gloves and winter coats.  For more information on the Bureau and their Holiday Shop, go to http://www.jccb.org.