(WICHITA, Kan.) — Many of us donate to charities this time of year, but how do you know that all those donations are going to all the people who need them?
Eyewitness News posed that question to the three largest holiday charities in the Wichita area; they gave an answer Santa would be proud of.
When describing Wednesday, "We sometimes refer to it as organized chaos," said Major Douglas Rowland of the Wichita area Salvation Army.
Because on Thursday, the Salvation Army will play Santa - and give Christmas gifts to Wichita area families.
"It just looks like people are going everywhere," said Rowland as he looked around the Salvation Army warehouse on Wichita's 2nd Street. "We have volunteers sorting, volunteers going through the records."
Those records note who gets the doll or the race car. They also designate which family has help, or needs it. "We spend weeks going through the application process," said the Major.
Each bag represents one family. There are about 5,000 bags inside the warehouse. That's about 20,000 people who will be helped this holiday season. But how do you make sure each person gets helped just once?
"We just take all the names, put them together, put them in a spreadsheet, and sort them all out like that," said Leslie Church of Interfaith Ministries.
Just like Santa Claus, Wichita's largest holiday charities have a list. Catholic Charities, Inter-faith Ministries, and the Salvation Army all share a master list of families who have applied and received help. Some smaller agencies also compare their clients to that list.
"Make sure that we're able to serve each family once," said Inter-Faith's Church, "rather than have duplications and that kind of thing."
"By cutting back on the duplications," explained Major Rowland, "that means we're able to do more for the other families, so that no one is left out."
So each bag has as many goodies as possible, just as Santa would do.