In a Denver suburb, one church’s “Christmas Store” brought some parents to tears this Christmas.
“People were just overwhelmed because they were going to [be able to provide Christmas gifts] for their kids,” said volunteer Nancy Feria. “Some were crying. They can’t even believe it that they are able to purchase these really nice new toys.”
Eastern Hills Community Christian Reformed Church in Aurora, Colo., supplied Christmas presents to 202 children at its Christmas Store on December 5th.
Parents selected two gifts for each of these children, each gift worth $30 to $50, for $5 each—enough “to make their Christmas the same as everybody else’s,” said missions pastor Debby Tepielow.
This was the second year the church ran the store, replacing a program of delivering gifts to families. The store atmosphere provides more dignity, since the family chooses the gifts and pays for them. Additionally, 65 volunteers were on hand to welcome and assist the shoppers, and after the purchase, these volunteers offered gift-wrapping, Christmas treats to snack on, and a friendly, listening ear.
To fund the event, the church took up a “Christmas in July” evening offering. Families in need were identified through the church’s other outreach activities.
“It’s hard to feel the joy at this time of year if you are struggling and not knowing if you can keep your house. It is an absolute privilege to help these families,” said Tepielow.
Volunteer shoppers purchased the gifts online, at Black Friday sales, and at various stores, including Kohl’s, which provided a discount and donates $500 toward the Christmas Store.
Before the event, volunteer coordinators asked parents “what the kids are into,” without guaranteeing any specific gift, according to Tepielow. This year, the most popular presents were “Star Wars” toys; an especially hot pick was the “Star Wars” Mr. Potato Head. Other gifts included pajamas, perfumes, cuddly toys, books, the latest “Adele” CD, jewelry, sports equipment, Denver Broncos and Denver Nuggets clothing, craft activities, and even bicycles.