River of Refuge newsletter, October 2023

River of Refuge Kicking Off Adopt-A-Family Drive for Christmas

These are just a couple of the bikes generous organizations donated as part of last year’s adopt-a-family program.

“Kids are supposed to have presents to open on Christmas,” said Jacki Ezell, River of Refuge program director.

As coordinator of River of Refuge’s adopt-a-family program, Ezell ensures that St. Nick makes a delivery to current families and those who have recently graduated from the program. The need can exceed 50 children.

River of Refuge is seeking individuals and organizations who want to buy presents for a family it would like to adopt. Donors can also make monetary donations to the program to help purchase gifts or contribute by donating items such as wrapping paper or paper plates for our Christmas party. (Ezell is available by email at jacki@riverofrefuge.com or by phone at 816.737.5100.)

Donors not only spread cheer to the kids, but they also assist our families by helping parents continue working toward the self-sufficiency that makes them successful once they complete our program. The donations relieve the pressure and expense parents face in buying Christmas presents.

The process works like this:

Ezell sends an application form to interested donors, requesting information like the size of the family they would like to adopt. (A large family, for instance, can include seven or more children.)

Staff matches donors with families based on wish lists submitted by the families. The lists include three wants and three needs.

Ezell sends the families’ wish lists to donors in early November so that they can take advantage of Black Friday deals. River of Refuge requests donors purchase two or three of the items on the wish list for each child.

Under this year’s timeline, ROR will ask for donors to bring in gift items by Dec. 1. That gives staff time to sort items in time for the parent wrap party, which is scheduled for December 11.

River of Refuge traditionally holds its Christmas party the week before Christmas so that families can spend Christmas day with each other.

It takes a lot of effort to coordinate all the moving parts, and Ezell oftentimes spends some of her spare time shopping to ensure matches for wish lists.

Ezell said it’s worth it, for instance, when she sees a kid bundled up because they just can’t wait to ride that new bike. She also ensures that each child has at least one new outfit that they can show off when they return to school after winter break.

The generosity also comes with a life lesson.

“It teaches the kids you may not get everything that you want all the time,” Ezell said.

“And that’s OK because you got something — you got some of the things that you wanted. That appreciation for what you do have, instead of focusing on what you don’t have, that’s a life skill for the adults and the kids.”


Community Garden is Growing Strong

Below are some photos from the most recent bounty produced by our community garden. So far this year, we have harvested 642 pounds of produce for our families. Thank you so much to Volunteer KC and Kansas City Community Gardens for their valuable assistance. Our harvest includes:

  • Tomatoes
  • Potatoes
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Eggplant
  • Broccoli
  • Chard
  • Kale
  • Radish
  • Carrot
  • Peppers
  • Turnips
  • Watermelon
  • Cucumber
  • Squash



At River of Refuge, we are proud of the revenue stream we have carved out through the creative use of Missouri state tax credits.

More traditionally, grants, donations, and special events help fund our operations. As for the latter, we always enjoy hosting our summer movie night — which has endured even though we started it as a pandemic-safe event.

And now, we are looking forward to spending another great evening with our supporters. Our Eat, Drink, and Be Giving Gala is coming up on Nov. 2 at Grand Street Café, located at 4740 Grand Ave. near the Country Club Plaza. The event runs from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

Tickets and sponsorships are available here.

What can you expect?

There will be great food and drink and live music, of course.

You will definitely enjoy the energy that our emcee, Nick Haines, brings to the events he hosts — whether it’s a fundraiser or a town hall meeting he leads through his work as the longtime leader of Kansas City PBS’ public affairs division.

Attendees will also have the opportunity to bid on more than 40 items through our silent and live auctions.

If you haven’t witnessed The Nigro Brothers’ charity auctioneering skills, you’re missing out. These guys are passionate about helping charities raise money and are great entertainers working the crowd.

A partial list of auction items includes premium tickets to Chiefs and Sporting Kansas City games; a Ritz Carlton trip to Colorado, Big Lodge Cabin weekend; Illume’ MedSpa Services; golf passes to courses at Loch Lloyd, The National, and LionsGate; a beautiful ceramic vase made by Karen Dreyer complete with a gift certificate to Studio Dan Meiner for fresh flowers; and Paddy VanWinkle 15-year-old bourbon.

We hope to see you next week!

Until Next Time,
Pamela Seymour, Executive Director