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Sunflower, local business ask community to brighten Christmas
new slt sunflower tree
The Christmas tree at Great Bend Coffee displays ornaments representing children at Sunflowers Early Education Center and Incredible Years Preschool, and some siblings. From left to right are: LaResa Likes, Great Bend Coffee owner, and Heather Quillin, childrens services coordinator. - photo by COURTESY PHOTO

        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’s 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 reaching out to 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; some 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 gift under the tree no later than Dec. 11 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 over 80 children right now in our tiny-k program and 38 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’s 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.