PITTSBURG, Kan. — The holidays are rapidly approaching, and local Pittsburg charities are gearing up for the season, including Wesley House, whose annual Christmas Basket event will kick off in just a few weeks.

Wesley House is an organization run through the First United Methodist Church in Pittsburg. It was created in 1982 to address the needs of low-income families in the area with a mission “to provide a safe, welcoming place for individuals and families of Crawford County to seek assistance, advocacy and education”.

For over 20 years Wesley House has partnered with the Salvation Army — they held this same event on their own before that — for their Christmas Basket event, which gives food and toiletries to families in need.

This year, however, due to issues pertaining to COVID-19 Wesley House and the Salvation Army decided to hold their events separately, according to Mandy Giddens, operations manager of Wesley House.

“We tried to work it out as best we could,” Giddens said. “We have every intention of going back to the normal next year. Hopefully, Covid won’t be an issue next year.”

This year the baskets will include a food bag, toiletries and a food voucher to shop at Ron’s Supermarket.

“We could not get boxes this year in the same ways that we have in the years past, so we decided to do a food voucher instead,” Giddens said. “Then people can pick their own items and it also supports the community.”

Giddens said they serve well over 500 families with this event every year and this year will be no exception.

“Everyone struggles a little bit at Christmastime because it's financially expensive,” she said. “Sometimes it's just really beneficial to have a little bit of help, especially with food items. Also, this year, due to Covid and people being off work, having their whole life really being flipped upside down, I think especially this year it’s super important that families are still able to be united and come together for a meal at Christmas time.”

She also encourages anyone that can donate and help the cause.

“We really rely on community support to help fund this event,” Giddens said. “The community has been very gracious to us for years and of course we have been able to continue it because of that.”

Families and individuals can sign up starting Nov. 2. Signups will run Nov. 2 through Nov. 6 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Nov. 9 through Nov. 13 — they are closed on Veterans Day Nov. 11— from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. with special evening sign-ups on Nov. 5 and Nov. 12 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Giddens said to make sure and bring proof of income and identification for all members in your family when you come. Distribution will be Dec. 16 and 17, and families will pick a specific time to collect their items through a drive-through when they sign up.