Last week, I discussed our Giving Tree project. This week, I’ll talk about two other efforts – our Christmas Room and the shoebox project for Yesterday’s Children.

As I mentioned last week, we try to help about 35 families with ‘a full Christmas’.  We select ‘new’ families each year as a one-time event; this way, we can spread our gifts with different families each year.  Since we see hundreds of people each month, we are only able to help a handful with the full package.  In order to spread out our help a little further, we’ve come up with the idea of having a “Christmas Room” the final week we are open before we close for the holidays. This year, the room will be set up for the week of December 9.

We stock the room with new toys that are donated; we have several donors that are aware of this event and particularly gather items to share with us.  Several church groups participate; one set of neighbors hosts a holiday party and has guests donate toys for us; many people drop off gifts and we add them to the room.  One of our donors puts up a tree for us outside his shoe store at the Cotton Exchange and we gather more gifts there.

During our final week, my volunteer interviewers escort parents back to shop for a toy or two for their children. Every year as the time nears, I start to worry that we won’t have enough to share; and every year we are overwhelmed with people’s generosity, and we can allow dozens of parents to shop.

The other project, Yesterday’s Children, is particularly geared to elders in our community.  We ask for donors to put together a shoebox stocked with several hygiene items (-toothpaste, toothbrush, shampoo, lotion, etc.) and perhaps a few extra treats such as a puzzle book, a pair of socks, a little candy, a trinket, etc.  We ask for the box to be wrapped and labeled to identify if it’s meant for a gentleman or a lady.   We have teams of people that deliver the boxes to different places the elders reside such as Hadden Hall I and II, James Walker apartments; each box is delivered in person, along with a personalized greeting card.    If we have gathered a large volume of shoeboxes, I make a few phone calls and identify other groups of people we can share the gifts with.  For many of the recipients, it might be the only gift they receive this year; my volunteers have many stories of heartfelt moments when they visit the elders.

If you are interested in either of these projects, gifts can be dropped off at the Center or under our Giving Tree at church. Flyers are in the vestibule explaining the guidelines for the shoeboxes.

Special Note:   the Center is closed this week (11/25-11/28) as we prepare the Thanksgiving baskets.  Best wishes to you and your families for a blessed Thanksgiving.