The Christmas store at St. Luke Lutheran Church, Buffalo, Wyo., caters to a special clientele. Shoppers are young--ages 4 through fourth grade--they smile a lot, and they bring no money.
The Christmas Kids' Shoppe is an outreach program to 400 children,
regardless of their circumstances. It offers kids the chance to give presents to family members and learn about giving. The store serves its clientele by:
• Getting presents. Residents, parishioners and businesses donate all items. Banks and the Chamber of Commerce allow collection boxes in their lobbies for new and used donations. Some businesses give money, which buys tape, tissue and other items.
• Informing the community. A gold ticket and a letter to the parents explaining the store is distributed to children through the schools, a preschool, Head Start and the Children's Center day care. The ticket allows children to choose up to five gifts.
• Opening the store. On shopping days--the first two Saturdays in December--an assistant helps children find the perfect presents. Parents aren't allowed to help, so they enjoy refreshments while the kids shop. Gifts are sorted into five areas--mom and grandma, dad and grandpa, teen girls, teen boys and toys.
• Wrapping. As many as 2,000 gifts are wrapped and tagged.
• Providing goody bags. The junior and senior high Sunday school assembles gift bags with an ornament or small toy and candy for the shoppers.
Lois Madson, Shoppe committee chair, admits that it takes a lot of hands to run the store, but it's worth it when you "see the expression on the faces of the children."
In a thank-you letter, Monica Burridge wrote: "The best part was when my 5-year-old said, with arms full of packages, 'Mom, this was the bestest gift, it's for you!' You know it won't matter what is in the pretty bag marked 'Mom' because I know the happiness and thought that went into picking it out."
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