After months of planning, Candlewood Community Church’s second annual Christmas Store went off without a hitch this weekend, exceeding organizers’ expectations.
“It was a greater success than we expected,” Pastor Ron Day said. “We were just overjoyed.”
The Christmas Store opened for the first time last year to offer low-income families a place to shop for gifts.
The idea for the store came from other churches and organizations around the country that found offering gifts for low prices enabled families strapped for cash a way to buy presents without losing dignity, Candlewood’s community ministry coordinator Sara Schrieber said in a previous Patch story.
And the event did more than give the community an affordable place to shop. The sale also served as a fundraiser for Oasis Pregnancy Center.
"Our goal was to raise $1,000 for Oasis, and we exceeded that," Day said.
The two-day event started Friday, Dec. 9, with an invitation-only sale to community members recommended for assistance by schools, churches, the county and other organizations. About 100 people turned out to shop for their loved ones Friday, Day said.
Many of the shoppers who attended Friday’s sale had been invited through their children’s schools. They received the information in the Thanksgiving baskets they received, Day said.
“We had lots of single moms who came out to shop and brought their children along,” Day said.
And a highlight for many of the store’s volunteers was the opportunity to cuddle the babies while their mothers shopped, Day said.
Hungry Harry’s Famous Bar-B-Que provided lunch for shoppers and volunteers on Friday, an added touch that helped make the day special, Day said.
Hungry Harry’s feeds so many people for free in the community, “I don’t know what we would do without their generosity,” Day said.
On Saturday, the store was open to the public, and there was plenty left to choose from.
“People came out and found great bargains,” Day said.