Open Door Misson in need of volunteers for holidays

WOWT 6 News Live at 10
Published: Dec. 8, 2021 at 10:42 PM CST
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - It’s a steady stream of parents picking out presents at the Open Door Misson, grateful to have something under the tree.

“Thanks to the community of Omaha we all will be putting under these nice little dolls and stuff for my kids, they’ll be really stoked,” said Leilannah White.

Jennifer Brooks found the one gift her daughter asked for, and the elf on the shelf.

“I got excited. The lady was like ‘where’s that?’ And I was like right there,” said Brooks.

Candace Gregory heads up the Open Door Mission and says it means a lot for parents to choose the gifts.

“When COVID hit we had to do a drive-through and you prayed that something in that bag would help a family,” said Candace Gregory.

The scene of the drive-thru last year had cars lined up for miles and the demand hasn’t let up.

“The problem is though we see a 50% in need our volunteerism is way down,” said Gregory.

Volunteers dropped at the height of the pandemic and haven’t bounced back.

“At this time in comparison to pre-COVID we had 14,000 volunteers a month, we’re right now hovering around 2,000 trying to offer 40 programs for free and it’s just not sustainable,” said Gregory.

They still manage to pull off the Christmas Project Santa program while the stresses of the pandemic persist.

“I have people in isolation, I still have infirmary and quarantine, it’s exhausting, we’re fogging every day, doing all the cleaning and sanitizing,” said Gregory.

Her staff has stepped up in place of volunteers.

”I’m just so proud of them. Truly. But to do it without volunteers is really tough. We’re tired and we really, really need volunteers,” said Gregory.

“And helping to lift spirits here was a very special visit from two former longtime volunteers.”

Meeting the Sloderbecks, they drove an hour and a half to deliver a lot of toys. Given a lot of time before moving.

“I miss it all year. I spent a lot of time down here,” said Patty Sloderbeck.

The couple spent hours carefully picking out toys.

“We started about 2 o’clock yesterday and I think we were done and back at the hotel around nine, we were having so much fun it was like where else could we go,” said Patty.

“I feel blessed, so we give back,” said David.

They’re encouraging others to give back too with time.

“Especially at this time of year because once you start to help and you get things, you kind of get the kids’ faces in your mind and you want to be part of the smile,” said Patty.

Here are the links to make a donation or volunteer at Open Door Misson.

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