For its entire 27 year history, the Lawrence St. Patrick's Day Parade Committee has dedicated itself to benefiting local children's charities in Lawrence and Douglas County. The Committee has raised over $750,000 for a wide variety of institutions in the area, and it does so as a completely volunteer-driven organization.
For 2015, the Committee is pleased to announce this year's charitable beneficiaries:
Centro Hispano is dedicated to providing case management and mental health services, assistance, and information to Latino families in Douglas County. We serve as a bridge between families and the community by informing them about the programs and opportunities that Lawrence has to offer for both children and adults. This is a critical service for many families our community, as language, culture, and financial limitations create very real barriers for some Latinos living here.
The funding that Centro Hispano receives from the St. Patrick's Day Committee will be used to connect Latino youth to sports programs that promote exercise and increase health outcomes and to involve Latino youth and their families in community activities which could result in increased family involvement. The availability of financial resources will also enable Centro Hispano to assist youth in paying for equipment and fees associated with various school activities. Research shows a strong correlation between participation in school/extra-curricular activities and academic success! Latino youth have one of the highest drop-out rates among ethnic minorities.
Douglas County Toys for Tots
Douglas County Toys for Tots believes "Every Child Deserves a Little Christmas." We are a volunteer organization sanctioned by the Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Foundation. We have no office or paid staff. All money we receive is used to buy toys and all toys we collect are given to the children in Douglas County. Last year we provided toys to about 2200 children and teens. We distribute the toys through a Toy Shop that is set up in a local donated store front where parents can select the toys for their children. Each child receives many toys. Douglas County Toys for Tots helps families that have never needed help or can't receive help from any other agency. All money received from the St. Patrick Day Parade Charity will be used to purchase toys for the children in our community at Christmas.
Just Food is the food bank in Douglas County, supplying more than 29 partner agencies with food donated from food drives, as well as access to frozen meat, fresh produce and bread. In our mission to fight hunger and promote self-sufficiency, we also provide direct service to clients with programs like Just Grow, Just Cook and Cooking Healthy Futures. Cooking Healthy Futures was developed in late 2013 initially in partnership with Kennedy Elementary School to teach children how to cook cheap and easy-to-make meals. Research around children eating healthy and how that affects their ability to develop physically, emotionally, socially and educationally is immense. If we can teach young children the value of food that is nutrient dense and good for them, we will change the future one child at a time. Currently, Just Food has plans to expand this program to continue working with Big Brothers and Big Sisters, as well as with the Boys and Girls Club as a part of their after school curriculum.
We've been donating to local Lawrence children's charities since 1988.