Families shop till they drop at third annual Christmas Store of Hope
The new toy on a list for Santa. Gazing at Christmas lights strung throughout the neighborhood. Houses filled with loved ones sharing a meal and remembering the birth of Jesus. These are what Christmas dreams are made of, but the Christmas season can also be a time of unmet expectations or disappointment.
For the 60+ students and 75+ family members shopping at the third annual Christmas Store of Hope on December 5, BHITC’s goal – and that of its donors, partners and volunteers! – was to surpass expectations with a fun day full of shopping, Christmas cheer, cookies, Santa, and, of course, plenty of hope!
“This year was the best Christmas Store we’ve held so far,” says Amy Mitchell, BHITC’s Director of Ministry Engagement. “We had many churches organizing toy and donation drives, businesses pitching in and dozens of donors who gave through our Amazon Wish List or shopped on their own. The response was incredible, as were the volunteers who helped, beginning all the way back in June!”
The Christmas Store, for families in BHITC’s tutoring programs, offers parents the opportunity to purchase brand new items at a fraction of retail cost while children use credits earned through tutoring to shop for their family members. “Because I am a weekly tutor and I volunteered at the Christmas Store, I got to see it all come together for the kids,” says Ed Juris, BHITC volunteer. “To see them week after week putting in the extra effort to come to tutoring and do their homework to earn credits, then being able to shop with the credits they earned was fantastic.”
With the help of volunteers, BHITC’s offices were transformed in a matter of weeks into a store where the families could shop. “After months of planning and weeks of setting up, the day of the Christmas Store arrives and I am always in awe of how the Christmas Spirit takes over,” says Karen Krauss, BHITC volunteer. “I especially enjoy helping provide delicious cookies and refreshments for all to enjoy. At the 2015 Christmas Store, about 500 cookies were devoured in a matter of four hours!”
The students and family members experienced not only a store full of brand-new items priced at a fraction of retail, but also the generosity of strangers, the love of 75+ volunteers and a day devoted to bringing them joy and hope during such a special time of year. It’s safe to say BHITC’s staff, volunteers and donors loved giving these families a day greater than they expected!