KMBZ Radiothon benefits Salvation Army Children's Shelter

Call 913-744-3877 to help abused and neglected children

Marc LaVoie
August 09, 2018 - 6:12 am

Some of the stories from the Salvation Army Children's Shelter in Kansas City are uplifting; some are difficult to hear.

For more than three decades, the shelter has taken in more than 7,200 Missouri children who had to be taken from their homes because of abuse or neglect. The shelter provides care for up to 20 children at a time.

KMBZ is broadcasting live from the Oak Park Mall from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday for the annual Radiothon for the Children's Shelter, sponsored by Wholesale Batteries.

Call 913-744-3877 to make a donation or donate here.

Radiothon sponsors include: Raynor Garage Doors of Kansas City, Bramble Built Fence and Grandma's Catering. Other providers of food include Topper's Pizza and QDOBA.

Developing an attachment to the kids, most of whom are placed by the foster care system, is easy, said Erin Eaton, shelter director.

Eaton says her husband sometimes ribs her about checking the back seat of the car in case she brought home one of the youngsters. 

There are constant reminders of the resiliency of children, especially those who take on adult responsibliities. Eaton remembers the 12-year-old sister of a little boy who had been sexually abused. At the shelter, the girl was like a guardian angel to her brother.

"He would go to bed and she would just post up outside his door, in a rocking chair, and play a little game, maybe read a book until she knew he was safe and asleep," Eaton said. "She sat outside his room for about half an hour every night because he had been the identified target of such violent abuse, she needed to know that he was safe."

Taking care of the most abused kids can be traumatic and rewarding profession.

Michelle Sanders will celebrate her 25 years working at the shelter in October. She has seen almost every imaginable scenario in her time there. One story that sticks out to her is a group of four children who were rescued from a horrifically abusive home. Two of their siblings had already died. The youngest to arrive at the shelter was an eight-year-old girl.

"She weighed about 40 pounds, which is about 30 pounds less than she should weigh for the height she was," Sanders remembers.

The girl managed to complete therapy and was adopted by a family at 16. She returned returned to the shelter to see the people who helped her and her siblings, and to remind herself of everything she had overcome. A lot of former residents return for closure.

"They have mixed feelings, sometimes they don't remember a lot from being here," Sanders said. "Some of them will walk in and say, this looks just like I remember it."

Michelle gets a lot of satisfaction from knowing that she helps provide a place where kids can feel safe for the first time in their lives. The shelter is a place where the older siblings can just be kids, knowing that the smaller ones don't need them to watch over them. 

Kids learn lessons at the shelter that most of their peers learn at home at younger ages.

"The first time they put their shoes on by themselves, or when they learn to tie their shoes, when they just learn to do normal kids stuff that we take for granted," Sanders said. "It's a major accomplishment for them."

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