There were 175 children in McMinnville who celebrated Christmas with Kids of the Community on Saturday, Dec. 18. The kids requested the party take place at the KOTC facility on Cadillac Lane.
Approximately $50,000 in gifts were distributed, including clothing, food, bathroom supplies, toys, and bikes. The Christmas party benefited the largest number of kids in the organization’s 23-year history.
FOUNDING MEMBERS AND VOLUNTEERS
Barry Dishman and Christie Allison are the two founding members of KOTC who organized the Christmas party. Two program directors, Lacey Jones and Olianada Vazquez, helped set up and staff the party. Family members of Barry Dishman and Christie Allison also helped.
Two of the volunteers were high school athletes Alec and Sebastien Smith who along with their sister, LeeLoo, have been involved with Kids of the Community in their youth.
Kids of the Community was created by Barry Dishman 23 years ago out of his office at the General Sessions Court. Dishman said, “I started this to help kids from going to jail. The No. 1 reason kids who came into court stated for getting into trouble was because they had nothing better to do.”
Dishman has given his heart and soul to giving at-risk kids something better to do, such as big events for the Super Bowl, Valentine’s Day, Easter, and ongoing Super Saturdays and many outdoor excursions.
Christie Allison, an educator, has helped coordinate homework with the KOTC for over 23 years. Presently, there are four certified teachers from the Warren County School System working with KOTC. Kids are picked up from school in KOTC vans and brought to the facility from 3:15 to 6 p.m.
Originally KOTC gave the kids snacks, but in recent years they have been given meals. Over 10,000 meals were served to kids at the KOTC facility in 2021.
The focus of KOTC is to help families with incomes under $25,000 give their children the opportunity to choose their own destinies, to not be limited by finances and learning opportunities.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
Barry Dishman often appeals to people to help on three levels.
Dishman says, “You can give your time, your talent, or your treasure.” Volunteers are needed to help clean and organize the KOTC facilities and grounds. Every talent from teaching kids how to play ball to helping maintain vehicles are needed.
If you have money (treasure) to donate, the Kids of the Community can use it. Monthly sponsorships are needed. KOTC is a grassroots program that operates predominantly on donations and a small amount of grants.
Every hour of volunteer time and every dollar will make a major difference to kids in the McMinnville community. For more information about Kids of the Community and how to make a donation, visit the website: www.kidsofthecommunity. com.