For Christmas, Lisa’s four-year-old son wanted a Woody action figure from the movie series “Toy Story.”
While shopping for the first time at the 27th annual Santa Shop, Lisa was able to look through the new, unwrapped gifts for her son.
“You had nothing like this where I grew up,” said Lisa, who lives in one of our on-campus housing programs. “He’s been asking for a Woody toy, and I happened to find one.”
The Santa Shop, which is held in the Family Success Center gym, had a mini-mall set up on Sunday, Dec. 10, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. This year, we helped 292 households by providing 873 children (ages infant to 17 years old) with presents under the Christmas tree. This was all made possible because of the help of 247 volunteers and countless individual and group donations.
“This is my second time helping out,” said Curtis, a volunteer from Saint Michael Catholic Church. “My wife and I are longtime supporters of St. Vincent de Paul. It’s a good organization.”
While walking with a volunteer, otherwise known as the “elves,” parents or guardians receive stuffed animals, dolls, sports balls, toys, outfits, hair accessories, clothing, pajamas, winter coats, books, board games, and stocking stuffers for their children. Parents can also have their gifts wrapped if they’d like.
“I wasn’t expecting a big mall. There aren’t words for it. What you all do for the Santa Shop is life-changing for people. You all definitely give back. Everyone is kind. I haven’t met someone without a smile on their face,” said Martin, a father of four.
Martin and his wife were shopping for three of their children. He heard about the Santa Shop through his neighbor, and it was a huge help because he’s currently laid off.
“I can’t believe all the stuff you all have. My daughter would have a field day with all these dolls,” Martin added.
Martin wasn’t the only one in need of a lending hand this Christmas. Someone who lost their husband to cancer last year had several children to shop for. There were families with upwards of nine children.
Sharicka, who had shopped for her kids many years ago, was now helping shop for her 7-month-old grandson.
Knakiya, who heard about the Santa Shop for the first time through our Food Pantry, was shopping for her daughter Faith, who is 8 years old. “It was pretty fun to shop for her. It’s helped a whole lot. Her favorite toy will be the L.O.L. doll. Christmas is the best time of the year,” Knakiya said.
Shoppers and volunteers alike shared the Christmas spirit.
“It was good to show the true meaning of the season,” said Bill, who volunteered with his son, William, and is a member of Holy Trinity Catholic Church.
Volunteers Chris and Natasha found out about the Santa Shop while Googling ways to give back this holiday season. Natasha said it was well-organized.
“It’s really good. This is my first time volunteering at something like this,” Chris added.
Thank you to everyone who made the 27th annual Santa Shop such a huge success! See more photos from this year’s event on our Facebook page.