November 4, 2016

It is the time of year that we rightly give thanks for the many blessings in our lives. For me, I count my faith, family, friends, health, and work as just some of the things for which I give thanks.

As we approach Thanksgiving, CSL would like to thank you, our loyal supporters and friends, for everything you've done to make this historic anniversary year a special one.

Let's count a few ways you've helped CSL strengthen our local communities:

- As of October 31, 2016, at least 3,102 donations have been made to CSL. Furthermore, many of the donations, like a food drive collection, happened at a church or business where dozens of folks contributed. I think it's a safe bet to say at least 5,000 people have supported CSL in different ways so far this year.

- 137 organizations hosted collection barrels at their sites as part of our "100 Barrels in 100 Days for 100 Years" campaign. Their efforts yielded tens of thousands of food items, school supplies/tennis shoes, and personal hygiene it...

October 7, 2016

Some of you might delete this email after reading this next sentence...

Christmas is in 79 days.

I realize I've jumped the gun, and we still have Thanksgiving and other great Fall activities ahead of us. However, for CSL, we have to complete our Christmas preparations before Thanksgiving to make sure we can serve children and families in our area. We expect to distribute more than 7,500 Christmas presents and 2,000 Christmas meal baskets to local families in 2016, and we can't do it without your help!

A question I've asked myself several times is why does CSL continue our legacy of helping families during the Holiday season? Thanksgiving and Christmas support don't directly contribute to our work in alleviating poverty in our area. The Holiday season, for most families, is full of hustle and bustle and can be very emotional. I know for me personally, I can get tied up in the emotion of all the fun and spend way more money than I should on events or gifts for loved ones.

In 2015, CSL'...

September 9, 2016

Many of us can thank credit for benefits we enjoy in life. Credit has allowed us to buy houses, finance education, purchase goods and services, or make it through an emergency situation.

For me personally, access to (relatively) cheap credit has helped me achieve milestones in my life. It helped fund my education at the University of Missouri, which led to buying a car through credit from Commerce Bank, and helped transport me to my first job 12 years ago. Not long after that, credit helped me buy an engagement ring for my wife, and then we used our joint credit to buy our first house in Independence. For me, getting started on my adult life was largely financed by good credit.

Unfortunately, so many people have little or no access to credit. For those not connected to traditional lending sources, or unable to qualify for the good credit that so many of us enjoy, they must often turn to lenders that prey upon their vulnerability. Toxic lending operations rely on the business model of...

August 4, 2016

Next week is an exciting time in our family's life because our oldest son heads to kindergarten. In preparing for this exciting journey, my wife and I are becoming increasingly aware of the high costs of education, and that is magnified as we look into the future and see 12 years of public school, and hopefully four or more years of college or other higher education.

The elementary school our son will attend has about 85% of its students that qualify for free or reduced lunches, indicating that many families are forced to choose between school supplies, food, and other basic necessities. I find myself wondering about these families that are struggling economically and possibly living their life going from one crisis to the next. Do they have the ability to plan for their child's future? Can they let go of a crisis related to work, housing, or finances long enough to think and plan for their kids going to college one day? Without that focus on education and upward mobility, many might...

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