Christmas Gift Program
YOUR GIFT BRINGS JOY TO CHILDREN ON CHRISTMAS MORNING!
We never meet the children we serve, so we can only imagine their faces when they wake Christmas morning to presents under the tree. Here’s how we make that happen.
At the end of January, our seasoned volunteer shoppers start prowling local stores and Internet sites for year-end close outs on thermal gloves and stylish hats. Local knitting and quilting clubs start working on items that they will ultimately donate to us for distribution in December.
In November, we set up donation boxes throughout the community. Teams of volunteers clean and then sort through the used toy donations to make certain all the pieces are included and that the mechanical toys work. We also conduct our annual appeal for cash contributions to fund our direct purchase of new toys and books at discount prices.
We coordinate with with schools, child-care centers, and social service agencies such as Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) to distribute invitations to families who qualify for our program. The invitation process is entirely anonymous – we don’t know who qualifies. About 2 weeks before Christmas, we set up a gift distribution site that is intentionally designed to look and operate like a department store.
When parents arrive at our site – no children allowed! -- volunteers greet them with coffee and cookies. Then, we provide the parents with “points” to use as currency in the “store” and introduce them to a volunteer personal shopper. The shopper helps the parents navigate through all the key store departments – Infants, Girls, Boys, Teens, Sports, Crafts, Books, Stocking Stuffers, Freebies, and Hats and Gloves.
After the parents have finished shopping, we provide batteries for all the mechanical toys and a coupon provided by the Lakeland Food Pantry www.lakelandpantry.com to receive a complete holiday dinner. Then, another volunteer carts all the goodies to the car and wishes the family a Merry Christmas. Because we protect the anonymity of families who use our programs, we cannot show you the grateful tears and hugs of parents as they load the toys and gifts into their cars.