To help make the season bright for a group of Shawnee Mission students, multiple community partners worked together on Dec. 14 to carry out Operation Rudolph.
The annual event brings students from different elementary schools together for a day of fun with supportive community members. This year, 27 Shawnee Mission sixth-graders from 14 different schools were invited to take part.
Operation Rudolph is made possible through the partnership of the Shawnee Mission Education Foundation and the Overland Park Police Department working with the Johnson County Chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Target Stores of Overland Park, The Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) Lodge #11, the Lenexa Police Department, the Merriam Police Department, the Shawnee Police Department and the Overland Park Police Officer Foundation.
“We are so grateful to the police departments, the NAACP, and Target for coming together to support our Shawnee Mission kids,” Kim Hinkle, executive director for the Shawnee Mission Education Foundation said. “Their holidays will be merry and bright because of these generous groups.”
As the event began, uniformed officers from Lenexa, Merriam, Overland Park, and Shawnee traveled to elementary schools to pick up students for Operation Rudolph. From there, they traveled to the Target store at 12200 Blue Valley Parkway, where they enjoyed a snack and received a gift card to use for shopping for themselves and their family.
The celebration continued at Tomahawk Ridge Community Center, where students wrapped presents, decorated cookies for their family members, enjoyed a meal, and received a gift basket.
“It doesn’t get much better than seeing our Shawnee Mission students not only shopping for their own gifts, but making sure their families have gifts as well,” Hinkle said. “Their generosity is inspiring and truly exemplifies what the season of giving is all about.”
This was the seventh-annual Operation Rudolph event, which was established to strengthen sustainable partnerships to address community needs during the holiday season.