The holidays, for many, are a time of giving. Local dispensaries and cannabis companies across Missouri have been following that mindset and setting up drives to help charities and organizations in their communities. From supporting pet shelters and food pantries to helping provide toys and gifts for children, Missouri’s cannabis industry has been focusing on giving back.

This year Susy Gonzalez and the team at Homestate Dispensaries partnered with the Buchanan Foundation Inc. to help them reach their goal of 1,200 toys by December 21st. Inspired by a donation from Toys for Tots, Gonzalez and the Homestate team, aimed to ensure the holiday toy drive by Buchanan Foundation was a success.

“I was super touched by the support from Toys for Tots,” Gonzales said. “Unfortunately, Toys for Tots didn’t have enough toys for the Buchan Foundation, so the leadership team and I got the budtenders more involved in our stores. Customers can bring in as many toys as they want, and we’ll give them a dollar pre-roll.”

Homestate

In addition to the toy drive, Homestate also organized a food drive, with brand partners like Show Me and Vertical Cannabis contributing to the drive. On Wednesday, more than 1000 pounds of food was donated to the St. Louis Area Food Bank by Homestate.

In Saint Joseph, there is a high need for items to help the women and children in the community. Vertical has partnered with YWCA and Voices of Courage to provide personal hygiene items and necessities to help families that have been displaced. Vertical has officially joined the St. Joseph Chamber of Commerce and has set up an in-house committee for community outreach event planning that is hitting the ground running in 2024.

Verts Neighborhood Dispensary has locations spread throughout the state, with each location focusing on a local charity or organization to partner with during the holiday season. In Dexter, Verts is gathering and donating staple food items for their local children’s home. Amber Taylor talks more about why they chose to donate there, “They’ve got kids from newborn to 18 years that come out of any sort of situation, whether it was neglect, abandonment or family conflicts: they take them in whatever the case is,” said Taylor.

Taylor noted the success of Verts’ community efforts explaining that their donations to the Stoddard County Children’s Home created a surplus of food allowing them to make a donation to local mother-to-mother program in Dexter.

Verts Neighborhood Dispensary

In Joplin, Verts is pairing up with Souls Harbor, a multifaceted human services and homeless shelter serving the Joplin community.

“They get no government assistance, so they thrive on just support from the community and other local businesses. We’re doing a coat, hat, and glove drive for them. They are a Christ-centered homeless shelter. They try to provide a lot of stuff to the homeless population out there.” The number of individuals and families being assisted by Souls Harbor is up more than 80% from the prior year Taylor noted.

The idea of community impact has been a large focus throughout the year with Taylor telling Greenway that each dispensary location attempts to have some community engagement activity each month. Throughout the spring, summer, and fall, each Verts location organizes a cleanup effort with the events becoming so popular among budtenders that there is a consistent abundance of volunteers. Additionally, Verts and the team members give back by volunteering at the Humane Society, helping to walk dogs and engage with the other animals and by preparing and delivering meals with their senior Meals on Wheels program.

Taylor thinks that the company’s community involvement helps set the standard for others, “If other businesses see us out picking up trash, they’re out picking up trash the following weeks. We really try to do our part. I feel like the more that you’re doing, the more other people will see you doing it, and they’ll want to be involved too.”

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