Benefits of breakfast

12/9/2013

Annual Red Stocking event benefits local KCSL programs.

Annual Red Stocking event benefits local KCSL programs.

By ANGIE HAFLICH

ahaflich@gctelegram.com

Four-year-old Jesse Hawkins could hardly contain his excitement when he saw Santa Claus.

"Hi Santa Claus," he said, sounding as if they were long lost friends.

It was the first time he ever sat on Santa's lap, his mother, Talona Chavez, said.

"We wanted the children to at least see Santa. We haven't had a chance the last few years," she said.

The family was at Saturday's Kansas Children's Service League's annual Red Stocking Breakfast.

Jesse's brothers, 7-year-old Seth Chavez, 4-year-old Cena Chavez and 3-year-old Cyrus Chavez, also talked to Santa Claus and his helpers, after the family ate breakfast.

Chavez and her husband, Kevin Chavez, said that their family benefits directly from KCSL's Head Start and Early Head Start programs at Garfield Elementary School.

"Jesse and Cena are both mentally delayed. Jesse has a few learning delays, but Cena only operates at about a 2.5-year-old level. They go to that program and they also go to Garfield, and it's actually increased their vocabulary. They talk more, they're learning so much more — I mean, the leap from where they were even a year ago to where they are now is amazing," she said.

Jeff Pfingsten, development manager at KCSL, said that their programs aim to go beyond the education of children.

"I think what differentiates us from other preschool programs is, besides the education of the child, we work with the family to get them jobs, set goals, manage their money, so we can help them be self-sufficient," Pfingsten said. "And the goal is to get them involved and be advocates in their kids' lives throughout their career."

According to a press release from KCSL, funds raised Saturday morning benefit three long-standing programs in the community: Early Head Start, Head Start and Healthy Families. While these programs are federally or state funded, and may receive additional support from the United Way and other grant sources, both rely on the Red Stocking Breakfast funds to fully serve their area.

Tickets for the breakfast were $10 in advance and $12 at the door. There are several other KCSL Red Stocking breakfasts taking place this month, in Emporia, Johnson County, Hutchinson, Wichita, Liberal and Topeka, and Pfingsten said that combined, the breakfasts raise about $15,000 per year.

Garden City's Red Stocking breakfast was held at the Clarion Inn, 1911 E. Kansas Ave. In years prior, the breakfast was held at the Lone Star Steakhouse.

Another variation to this year's breakfast was, instead of only having celebrity volunteers, it was students from the Horace Good Middle School Junior Leadership Corp serving up the plates of bacon, scrambled eggs, potatoes, and biscuits and gravy; bussing the tables; and filling empty cups.

"They have been unbelievable," Dona Booe, KCSL president and CEO, said. "They have been courteous, visiting with people. They're a delight."

A trio of students — 13-year-old Hunter Manley, 12-year-old Shelby White and 13-year-old Joshua Perez — manned the breakfast buffet toward the end of the morning.

"I liked it because I could go around and talk to people," Shelby said.

Perez said he enjoyed helping people.

When it was done, about 300 people attended the breakfast, which Booe said was consistent with prior years. Attendees bid on silent auction items provided by local businesses and were entered into a drawing for a chance to win a number of different prizes, also provided by local businesses. The drawing for those prizes will be held today.

"We'll pick the ticket to go with each prize and call the winners," Pfingsten said.

Two roundtrip airline tickets from Southwest Airlines are also up for grabs. Pfingsten said the drawing for that prize will be held Dec. 17 in Topeka.

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