Fairview Charles Rogers and his wife, Isabel, decided to drive to Greensburg in mid-September to see how well the tornado-stricken town was recovering.
It had been four months since an F-5 twister attacked the town, ripping houses from their foundations, snapping utility poles and leaving behind piles of rubble and debris.
Although they could see the town was rebuilding, the couple were stunned by the devastation, both physical and emotional, that remained.
As they were driving away from Greensburg, Isabel wondered aloud why they couldn't do something to help the community, particularly its children.
"So we got together a goal to take Christmas to Greensburg," Charles Rogers said.
The Rogerses proposed the idea to their friends from Fairview and Sabetha, who in turn offered their support. As word of the project spread, a number of other residents volunteered to help, too.
"There's no way to name or count them all," he said.
Fundraisers for Christmas
The group decided to raise money to purchase Christmas trees, tree decorations, toys, clothing and other items for the residents of Greensburg.
In the meantime, Rogers, the mayor of Fairview, began having conversations about the Christmas project with John Jansen, the mayor of Greensburg, and Pastor Marvin George, president of the Kiowa County Ministerial Alliance.
"It will be totally appreciated by the community," Jansen said earlier this month.
The Fairview community organized two fundraisers: a potato bar and a chili-soup feed.
By Sept. 30, the potato bar and collection boxes distributed around Fairview had brought in about $1,200, Rogers said. Food for the potato bar, which served about 175 people, was provided by Garrett's Country Mart in Sabetha.
The chili-soup feed, on Oct. 28, served 200 and took in about $1,800, he said. Lindy's grocery store and Wal-Mart, both in Sabetha, helped pay for the food, and a number of residents cooked a gallon or two of soup or chili to donate to the meal. Thrivent Financial for Lutherans provided desserts and a matching grant of $1,000.
"We couldn't have done it without all the help we had," Rogers said.
In addition to the fundraisers, Ruth Jamvold, of Fairview, an employee at Keim Truck Line, talked to the company's drivers and other workers about donating to the project, he said. She ended up collecting $1,500, which was used to buy clothing, toys and other items.
By Nov. 6, Rogers said the project had purchased $4,000 worth of toys and taken in more than $4,000, including the Thrivent grant.
"We have exceeded our goal," he said.
The project also is getting 160 Christmas trees from Schweizer Orchards.
"They are giving them to us at a reduced wholesale price," Rogers said.
Rieger will drive the trees to Greensburg on Friday. A caravan of at least four vehicles loaded with boxes of decorations, toys and clothing will follow Rieger's lead.
Rogers said cash and toy donations will be taken "up to the last minute."
Among those making the trip to Greensburg are Jerry and Roland Brees, of Fairview.
"We wanted to help but we didn't know how," Jerry Brees said, explaining why she and her husband volunteered for the project. "We know that what they get they will really need."
George, the head of the ministerial alliance, said the Christmas trees, toys and clothing transported to Greensburg from Fairview will join other donated gifts that will be given out during a Christmas Fest on Saturday.
"It's so people here can have a Christmas," he said.
George said the Fairview community is proof that the pioneer spirit of helping one's neighbor is alive and well in Kansas.
"They have really touched some hearts here already," he said.