Creative open house

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COLUMBIA - A local organization is offering kids a chance to make a mess they usually wouldn't be able to make at home.

First Chance for Children is hosting its third Open House to showcase its services and connect with the community. Everyone is invited, but the event will especially benefit expecting parents, new parents and those with children under the age of 5.

Two of the new activities the organization is offering include playing with shaving cream and jumping in a pool of spaghetti.

Kasey Schaumburg, interim co-executive director of First Chance for Children, said in addition to the new activities, they've added more components to this year's open house.

“Something new this year is we put some extra information in our annual report and we will bring that and let the community know some of the things we’ve been doing,” Schaumburg said.

Schaumburg said this open house will feature games and crafts for kids. The event is free, but the organization always accepts donations in the form of money or family items like diapers.

“We feel like it is such a great chance to let the community know what we’re doing, but let them see it first hand,” Schaumburg said.

According to its website, FC4C aims to advocate for high quality early childhood practices, programming and policy, providing resources to foster health families and high quality early childhood development programs and services.

The program currently serves 250 families in eight mid-Missouri counties and hosts more than 100 families at their Lend & Learn Library locations in Columbia and Centralia. The program currently offers 5 programs: Baby Bags, Safe Cribs, Lend and Learn Toy Libraries, Parents as Teachers and Read Hold Talk.

“Personally, my favorite program is our Lend and Learn Library. You can see the benefits of children learning how interact with other kiddos. Parents being able to talk with other parents about common challenges they face and also having that trained specialist,” Schaumburg said.

FC4C is funded through the Department of Social Services, Boone County Children's Service fund and private donors.

"When it comes to basic necessities such as diapers, cribs and books, too many new mid-Missouri families have trouble making ends meet. FC4C exists to alleviate financial stress and elevate parental knowledge for countless families and their babies," Schaumburg said.

Jill Dudley is the community relations director for Serve it Up Como. She echoes Schaumburg's sentiments on helping families early and often.

"It's really unreal what a difference quality early child education can do for families. I think it's really great that they're trying to focus on every family, especially those that are high risk- to make sure that they still have adequate resources and access to those resources. Even if their income may be lower, that doesn't prevent them from giving their child a quality education, quality developmental opportunities to make sure they're growing and developing the same as every other child their age to best prepare them for school for life."

The program is currently accepting financial gifts, donated toys and books and volunteers.

FC4C will host the event at 1010 Fay Street from 3-6 p.m.

"I think it's really important for events like this for people to learn about and if they're able to stop by, I highly encourage them to do that. Even if it may not be a resource they use, but it may be a resource they're able to refer a friend to or a co-worker and all of those things spread like wildfire and it really can make such a difference in the lives of so many people. Not just that family, but that community," Dudley said.