Times are tough and they just keep getting tougher for many. That’s why Candlewood Community Church is reaching out to help make the holidays brighter for area families.
Through its second annual Christmas Store, the church’s congregation hopes to assist families in making holiday shopping more affordable. In order to do so, however, the church needs a little help from the community.
“There are a lot of hurting people right now whether they’re single moms or single dads, unemployed, underemployed,” explained Pastor Ron Day. “Those of us who have been blessed and are still making ends meet, we can be an agent of help for other people who otherwise might have a pretty dismal season.”
Day said area residents who want to help out can make donations to the store. Volunteers are also needed to help sort through donations, prepare the displays and man the store during its two-day run in early December.
The Christmas Store works a little differently than other holiday charity drives, Day explained. Rather than give items away, Candlewood charges buyers a modest fee. The money raised, in turn, will go to support Oasis – A Pregnancy Center.
The first day the store is open will be by invitation only for shoppers who have been identified as those needing assistance. Referrals for invitations may come from law enforcement, schools, Oasis and other nonprofit and county organizations. Patrons on the first day of the store’s operation can also earn “money” to shop by volunteering their time. Prices will be set at deep discounts for new items and garage sale rates for gently used items.
On the second day, the store will open to the general public, Day said. That day is the only one Candlewood is announcing publically. All area residents are invited to stop by the church Dec. 10 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. to look for their own holiday bargains.
The store’s concept is designed to give low-income families a way they can afford gifts without undo financial strain, said Sarah Schrieber, Candlewood’s community ministry coordinator. 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, Schrieber said.
For more information about donating or volunteering, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 813-505-0271. Organizers are requesting new and gently used items. Money and gift cards to make purchases for the store are also welcome.
Anyone with large items to donate can contact LOL Transport & Moving for free pick up of good quality furniture that is free of stains, tears, smoke or animal hair. For information, call 813-996-3775 or email LOLmoving@aol.com.
Donations can also be dropped off at the church, 21428 Carson Drive, and at these area businesses:
- Compass Self-Storage, 19020 N. Dale Mabry Highway, Lutz
- LOL Transport & Moving
- Organic Life
- Ierna's Heating & Cooling
Candlewood has also received the support of a number of other sponsors and partners, Day said. LOL Transport & Moving is taking care of picking up large donations, Hungry Harry's will provide lunch for store workers, NuVista Foods is supplying Christmas meals for $25 (a value of more than $50), Organic Life intends to keep volunteers supplied with coffee and cocoa while the store is open and Space Box offers year-round storage.
Editor's note: This article was updated Nov. 16 at 12:32 p.m. to include sponsor and partner information.