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Sunflower, local business ask community to brighten Christmas
SDS Tree 2019
The Christmas tree at Great Bend Coffee is adorned with ornaments that represent children at Sunflower Early Education Center and Incredible Years Preschool. Pictured from left to right are: Jessica Kraisinger of Sunflower, LeResa Likes of Great Bend Coffee, and Alyson Burkhart and Alejandra Velez, both of Sunflower.

Christmas will be a little merrier for children who might not otherwise have a package to open this year, thanks to a local non-profit agency and a Great Bend business.

Infants and toddlers served by Sunflower Early Education Center (EEC) and Incredible Years Preschool, and some siblings will benefit from the activity sponsored by Great Bend Coffee, 2015 Lakin.

“Great Bend Coffee has been our partner in this special Christmas tree display for several years now,” said Heather Quillin, children’s services coordinator. “We are so grateful to LaResa and Eugene Likes and others in the community that are supporting the children and families we serve.”

The tree is decorated with tags, each representing a child enrolled in the EEC’s early intervention program or the preschool; siblings also are included. Gender, age and clothing size, along with wants and needs, are indicated on the individual tags.

Participants are asked to select a tag and then place a present wrapped in a gift bag under the tree no later than Dec. 9 so they can be delivered before Christmas in Sunflower’s five-county service area.

“We carefully chose the families represented on the tree,” Quillin said. “Anyone who participates can be assured the children involved deserve a special gift at Christmas.

“We are serving approximately 70 children right now in our tiny-k program and 28 in our preschool; it is gratifying that parents are seeking early intervention and education,” Quillin added. “It is the best route to achieving developmental milestones.”

Sunflower EEC is part of the tiny-k network in Kansas that provides early intervention services for infants and toddlers with delays or disabilities at no charge to families. Its preschool is for any child ages 2-and-a-half to 5, including those who are developing typically and those who demonstrate a delay; tuition is based on income.

The non-profit agency’s service area includes Barton, Pawnee, Rice, Rush and Stafford counties.