Former homeless woman tries to hold Christmas party at shelter, gets denied

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ST. LOUIS - Kandi Smith doesn’t hold back for a Christmas party she hosts for homeless families at Gateway 180 in St. Louis.

“I provide food for these people,” Smith said. “Gifts, toys, hats, clothes, scarfs, gloves; everything for these people.”

Ten years ago, Smith found herself seeking a roof over her head at the shelter and knew she had to give back.

“For six years, I’ve been doing this for the residents of Gateway 180,” she said. “I never had a problem, but the third year is when the problem came.”

That’s when Smith claims the administration informed her that she couldn’t use the shelter anymore with no explanation.

For the last three years, Smith held the Christmas party at The Ambassador, but that’s starting to hurt her pockets.

“I don’t understand why I have to go out and find a place to host the party for residents, plus find transportation,” she said.

With the deadline of her Christmas party coming up and still no location, Smith had hoped to bring that party back to the Gateway Homeless Shelter.

However, Executive Director Kathy Connors said that simply cannot happen.

“We really have reduced the number of holiday parties that are made available for the kids for the clients,” Connors said. “We want their homestay here to mimic what real life would be.”

Connors said she appreciates Smith’s drive to give back, but feels that help could be used in a different way.

“I would love to sit down and see how we can work together and really get families the things they need,” she said.

Smith said she is open to that, but she still plans to have her Christmas party this year.

"Regardless, we got to make it happen,” Smith said.