THE NEW 2018 “CHRISTMAS STORE” at the Salvation Army Owosso Citadel was the result of a partnership between the Salvation Army and Shiawassee Hope, and the conclusions were extremely positive. As of Tuesday afternoon, Dec. 11, 49 local families had joined in the shopping experience, providing Christmas gifts for over 100 children. The concept is also new. The “Christmas Store” was established so that community members were welcome to come and shop for a $5 suggested co-pay (not mandatory), with the thought being that this allowed parents and/or guardians to feel participatory in holiday purchases made for their own children. For the $5 suggested co-pay, families were allowed four to five gifts per child, a puzzle for every family, unlimited books and stuffed animals (not counted as the initial gift items), assorted stocking stuffers, a $20 Walmart gift card and a $50 Kroger gift card to supplement for grocery items. Several families that have volunteered regularly throughout the year had the co-pay fee waived.
The “Christmas Store” was set up to include gift selections for all age groups, primarily up to 16, though there were items appropriate for kids up to 18. Marlene Webster of Shiawassee Hope shared, “Some of the people coming through the store yesterday were just so excited they could actually choose gifts for their kids. This allows parents to be able to enjoy this whole upcoming week, prior to Christmas, being excited about the gifts they picked out for their kids.”
Samantha Ardelean, also of Shiawassee Hope, mentioned a story about a juvenile probation officer who had come through the “Christmas Store” with a child who had recently had the traumatic experience of losing everything due to a house fire. The officer had shared that he thought the new store, with all that was offered, was amazing and he felt truly overwhelmed on behalf of those who could visit and enjoy the experience.
A complete wrapping station was available, as well. Parents/guardians could also wrap the gifts for their children – or a volunteer was available to help them out.
“We just wanted to give families the dignity they deserve at Christmas time,” stated Ardelean. Early discussions on the workings of the new “Christmas Store” had started over a year ago.
“It offers that feel-good feeling that donors get from giving and lets the parents have that feeling,” said Webster.
Shown are (center) organizers Salvation Army Lieutenant Jonathan Tamayo with Shiawassee Hope representatives Samantha Ardelean and Marlene Webster, surrounded by assorted volunteers and shoppers.
The proceeds from the suggested co-pay are likely going toward shelving for the food pantry at Pleasant Valley.
(Independent Photo/Karen Mead-Elford)