When Geneva High started Lee’s Summit Social Services back in 1992, her grandson, Matt Sanning, was just a youngster. Neither could have envisioned the power a single tree donned with Christmas lights would have on an organization many years later.
Sanning remembers getting out of school on occasion to help his grandma at the food pantry, which operated out of various locations, including a garage, house and church, before moving to its current location in downtown Lee’s Summit.
Early on, Sanning understood the value of giving and mercy.
“That allowed us to grow up with compassion about people in our community,” says Sanning. “This organization is so much more than handing stuff out.”
Now 33, Sanning is the executive director of LSSS, having taken over the nonprofit agency when High retired.
Lee’s Summit Social Services serves upwards of 4,000 individuals per year, providing services such as food, utility and rent assistance, clothing and minor home repair.
This holiday season, though, could be even more special for LSSS.
Last year, the charitable organization was the recipient of 2,400-pounds of food left from visitors of the Lee’s Summit Magic Tree. Located at I-470 and View High Drive, the Magic Tree will provide 40 Days of Magic for the thousands of visitors who will view, take photos, send holiday wishes, pray or just enjoy the serenity of the 12,500 lights.
Last year’s 2,400-pounds of food provided nearly 700 meals and helped more than 200 families. Sanning said he also received cash donations that are critical to the organization. Each year, LSSS puts more than $200,000 back into the communities of Lee’s Summit, Lake Lotawana, Lone Jack and Greenwood in the form of financial and other assistance, including car repairs, home repairs and needed medication.
“The spirit of the Magic Tree is different to everybody,” he says. “At Lee’s Summit Social Services, the goal is to help give others that spirit in other aspects.”
The Lee’s Summit Magic Tree and 40 Days of Magic will be illuminated on November 26 and will run through January 5, 2016.
See more at Facebook.com/LSMagicTree or LSMagicTree.com.