Sisko Kidz helps area families

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By Sarah Slayman
Staff Writer

Messenger photo by Sarah Slayman
Steve and Christine Sisko in their 2,800 square foot building that houses their charitable contributions for the local community.

Steve and Christine Sisko saw many families in need in their community, so they stepped up to help.

Founded in 2015, the Siskos run Sisko Kidz, a non-profit foundation in Columbus that aims to aid under-resourced families through material donations, education, and community involvement opportunities.

Children are particularly vulnerable during tough transitions, like divorce or being removed from domestic violence situations, and the challenges can often leave certain needs unmet.

The compassion for struggling families began when the Siskos had different experiences growing up watching family members struggle to provide specifically for disabled loved ones. This compassion carried on to when three of their daughters’ cheer teammates had a hard time obtaining what was needed to compete, such as shoes or transportation to out of town competitions. They were three girls with a troubled home life and the Siskos brought them under their wing by helping meet those needs. The girls came back later in life as well-to-do young adults and thanked them for being a consistent helping hand that they now attribute their current success to.

“This was the first example we saw of what kids can do with themselves if you give them the resources and a bit of a structured environment.” Christine said.

This experience drove Christine to begin what is now Sisko Kidz from her kitchen. She would see someone in need through Facebook, find whatever they were lacking and then Steve, after work, would spend his time doing local pick-ups and drop offs. The couple eventually collected a surplus of resources through donations and personal purchases which they stored in their backyard shed to distribute.

The initial desire was to help families of children with disabilities, but the spectrum soon broadened to anyone with a kid that could use some help.

The Siskos are involved in their community through coaching and the local school systems and began to catch on to who was struggling within their circles. This connectivity provided them with many people excited to donate what they could. That backyard shed has since grown to a 2,800 square foot storage unit next to B33, the local bingo hall on Refugee Road, that the Siskos took over in 2018 to help sustain their non-profit. A large portion of the earnings go towards maintaining Sisko Kidz. Christine has since ended her 16-year career at Nationwide to give herself to the foundation full time.

Since 2015, Sisko Kidz has helped more than 500 families and donated more than $70,000 of resources. They’ve gifted items such as washers, dryers, sectional couches, and even cars.

With the surplus of connections and willing hands, Christine said, “We’re getting donations now from just about any angle you can think of.”

They’ve additionally provided a child with a service dog, donated 150 full backpacks to students, paid off students’ lunch debt, fed several families during the pandemic, and enrolled kids in sports to keep them connected and busy.

The most rewarding story for Steve was providing a customized tricycle for a little girl with Down Syndrome who had always wanted to join her parents as they rode their bikes. Considering the price of the specialized tricycles, her parents could not provide her with a means to join them. Just in time for her birthday, the Siskos gift arrived and she received it with much joy.

The Siskos also cared for a single father of three who recently moved into his first home by providing the family with beds, lights, an oven, a fridge, a couch, and first batch of groceries through their organization. Sisko Kidz will be gifting him a car, turning an hour long bus ride for his disabled daughter’s appointments into a 15 minute car ride. The family gets excited to see Steve’s truck pull up and the father remarked, “It’s been Christmas ever since we met you.” Remembering this impact helps the Siskos to continue.

“It’s rewarding,” said Steve.

Generosity often reproduces itself. Many families helped by Sisko Kidz return to offer their own help through volunteer work or donations. There are many volunteers who make Sisko Kidz happen, but the organization could always use another hand.

For information on Sisko Kidz, email siskokidzfoundation@gmail.com.

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