For a child who celebrates Christmas, there’s nothing like first thing Christmas morning, where they can discover what presents await them under the tree. The Shafter Christmas Store is all about supporting a huge part of making that magic happen: the parents.
“We have a saying, ‘the magic of Christmas for the whole family,’” Brittney Neal, Lead Volunteer of The Shafter Christmas Store said. “Rather than being handed a toy that their child may or may not like, they get the joy of shopping for them and the dignity of knowing they earned the money to be able to provide for their families.”
Even Santa has helpers, so with children, jobs and bills to juggle, The Shafter Christmas Store recognizes that around the holidays, parents may need a helping hand too.
“A lot of families, and especially this year where in previous years, they had no trouble making ends meet. So they may feel displaced or lost of ‘how do I make this Christmas special for my kids when I’ve never had a financial issue before?’” Neal said. “These are really the families that we want to reach out to.”
That’s why Neal says they collect donations and buy shiny and new toys and books for parents in the Richland School District to shop at an 80 to 90 percent discount. Neal and her two friends were inspired to start the store a few years ago because of a similar model in Georgia.
Even the pandemic cannot take away from the Christmas spirit of giving--the shop has gone completely online, with a curbside pickup for Richland parents December 12.
“[It’s] not unlike something you would see at Walmart or Target where they’ll drive thru, get their wrapping supplies, their toys, a hot drink and a cookie, and a lot of socially distanced Christmas spirit,” Neal said.
Neal says they’re still looking for volunteers and are picking people based off of a cohort model, or as we know it in 2020 terms, a pandemic pod.
“We’re looking for groups of people that either work together, or families, or people that are already socializing. We will keep your quarantine bubble isolated,” Neal said.
They need help with packing orders the first two weeks of December and the day of the event or the day of, with each station designated to a cohort.
Any parents who want to shop the store should check in with their campus’ Healthy Start program.
The store is about 90 percent of the way to their donation goal of getting enough toys for 150 kids. Here’s how you can donate.