Sept. 13, 2019

By Layne Stracener of the Tribune

Tribune photos by Joey Hedges

Engineer Myles Collins, Captain Kris Presnell, Engineer Mike Snedeger, and Fire Fighter Andrew Dressler at Fire Station 1, 207 SE Douglas St.

The Lee’s Summit Fire Fighters Auxiliary, in connection with Lee’s Summit Fire Fighter Charities, is collecting donations at all seven fire departments to support Lee’s Summit Social Services (LSSS).

Donation barrels are located in the lobby of each Lee’s Summit fire station. They are accepting canned and boxed food, diapers and personal items between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. until Sept. 23. If no one is at the station, donations can be left outside.

LSSS is a nonprofit agency that helps low-income families and individuals with basic needs such as food, utility and rent assistance, clothing, medical items, school supplies and holiday needs.

LSSS is currently in particular need of pasta sauce, canned fruit, pancake mix, canned chicken, chicken noodle soup, tomato soup, tuna, and diapers in sizes four, five and six, according to its website.

Matt Sanning, LSSS executive director, said that his goal is to bring awareness to the community about people who are in need and to show individuals that they can make a difference.

Sanning said that the agency’s need for assistance has increased because of changes in federal programs, including food stamps.

Another reason for the increased demand is that LSSS has increased the amount of assistance per family; the organization is helping fewer families but is giving those families more assistance. During the 2008 recession, LSSS helped about 5,000 families. Today, the organization helps about 3,000.
“Now, there are fewer people who have a desperate need for assistance, so we’re doing more for the entire household because we want to make that as impactful as we can,” Sanning said. “If a family comes in and they need all four tires but we only have enough to give them one tire, it still doesn’t get them where they need to be.”

Lee’s Summit Firefighters Auxiliary member Mia Prier said that her main goal for this donation drive is to raise awareness for LSSS, citing the importance of proving donations this time of the year, when the organization typically receives less.

Donations to LSSS decrease significantly from late spring to early fall, according to Sanning. The organization receives the most donations during the holidays, and those donations usually last until spring.

Lee’s Summit Fire Fighters Association (LSFFA) decided to support LSSS because the organization is always in need of donations.

“When we’re out in the community doing our regular job, we always see a need for food for the citizens that live in this great community,” LSFFA President Bryce Buchanan said. “This is just one of the ways that we can help, because the community supports us when we need support.”

Buchanan’s goal is to make this donation drive as successful as possible.
“Whether we get one can or a thousand cans of food, anything will help, and we’re just trying to do as much as we can to give back,” Buchanan said. “We want to thank those who participate and take the time out of their busy days to stop by and give what they can.”

Sanning will prepare a barbeque meal for the station with the most donations, and the winner will be announced on social media.
Sanning loves seeing the community come together to make a difference through this donation drive – and he encourages everyone to thank a first responder in the community.

“I think the better relationship we have with our first responders, whether it be the police or the fire department, that’s just going to make us stronger as a community,” Sanning said. “This is more than just a food drive. It’s certainly going to benefit hundreds of families, but it’s also going to help build the community, which, for me, is everything.”

Donation barrels are at the following locations:
Fire Station 1, 207 SE Douglas St.
Fire Station 2, 2000 NE Rice Road
Fire Station 3, 210 SW Pryor Road
Fire Station 4, 404 NE Woods Chapel Road
Fire Station 5, 3650 SW Windemere Drive
Fire Station 6, 101 Blackwell Road
Fire Station 7, 2150 SW Scherer Road