HOISINGTON — Families in Hoisington dropped in throughout the afternoon Saturday to take part in the festivities at the GPS Kids Club at 352 W. 12th St. Director Debbie Stephens, staff and members of the Great Bend chapter of Pilot International gathered at the faith-based non-profit childcare center were there to welcome visitors and man tables filled with cookies to decorate and craft making stations where kids assembled various Christmas tree ornaments to take home. There were games and a bouncy castle to play in, and Santa Claus was on hand too.
“We wanted to have a fun celebration and give back so families can just come in and enjoy their holiday, make stuff together and just have fun,” Stephens said.
Bake sale items were also available for party-goers to purchase and take home, with proceeds earmarked sponsorships for kids attending the program there and for additional upgrades to the building, Stephens said.
In April, the fate of GPS Kids Club was uncertain. The center needed to come up with $42,136.76 by the end of May in order to pay for a needed fire alarm system. The Kansas Office of the State Fire Marshall was refusing offer further extensions beyond the May 31 deadline.
Local media, including the Great Bend Tribune, reported on the efforts the center had made up to that point, and the community responded.
Donations and gifts ranged in size from a few dollars given from piggy banks of students to a sizeable donation from the Larry and Kathy Schugart Donor Advised Fund at the Golden Belt Community Foundation.
One Hoisington business, The Farmhouse, helped to organize a street fair in front of their shop, and donated a portion of proceeds from their sales that day to GPS. A community barbecue and dance with a live DJ was also held.
Stephens and her staff were able to move forward with installation of the fire alarm system the KSFMO required. Additional money raised was designated to go towards other required improvements to the building.
“We’ve had our challenges, but we are moving forward,” Stephens said. “I feel so blessed and I’m telling you this year has been one of the most trying years I’ve ever experienced. But it’s been most reassuring to know that everything is going to be okay and God’s got us.”
GPS Kids Club will be open during the winter holiday, with the exception of Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Years day so the staff can enjoy the holidays with their families.
The center will be open from 6 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and Stephens said there are plenty of fun activities planned to keep the kids busy.