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From the minds of babes: Child's idea helped homeless children buy parents presents

Posted at 11:07 PM, Dec 07, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-08 11:23:03-05

CINCINNATI — On Saturday, in Walnut Hills, a little extra magic, a fifth-grader's idea and some help from Santa himself helped to flip the script for families struggling with homelessness this holiday season.

Fifth-grade student Kate Kitchen raised around $1,000 not for gifts for children, but for their parents.

In the Greater Cincinnati area, families are the fastest growing demographic in the homeless population. The Greater Cincinnati Homeless Coalition reports that families make up 39 percent of people struggling with homelessness in the region.

That's why Kitchen dreamed up the perfect store: One where children could get their parents gifts without having to pay any money.

"I thought about how the kids want to give their parents something, like I would," said Kate.

As the kids perused the items available in the store Kitchen helped to create, they were also greeted by Santa Claus himself.

"A lot of times, shelters get a lot of donations for kids in terms of toys, but there's not really anything to give the parents, and kids have this need of wanting to give their parents gifts this holiday season," said Lauren Kitchen, Kate's mother.

Kate and her family volunteer at the Interfaith Hospitality Network Shelter in Walnut Hills, where she got the idea for the store and the determination to raise the money herself.

"We have phone chargers, we have men's stuff, and we have women's and we also have body kind of stuff," said Kate.

The store at IHN also held a small party for the families they serve on Saturday. The shelter normally serves eight families at one time, but serves around 400 a year through shelter and permanent housing programs.

"Any donations that we've gathered today that aren't being used by our families in shelter are going to be used by families who are getting back on their feet," said Stacey Burge, executive director of IHN.

For neighbors like Kate, ensuring every one -- not just the kids -- can have a present from their loved ones is what the holidays are all about.

"It's about sharing stuff with other people and having fun," said Kate.