Puente del Pueblo
This year, 193 families came to shop, serving 536 children.
The Christmas Store is made possible by the generous support of our community partners, the dedication of our volunteers, gift drives by area organizations and financial support of sponsors and individuals.
276 volunteers selflessly gave 1,599 total hours in 2016. Volunteer work begins months before the Store. Roles include check-in, translators, drivers, child care, helping shoppers, wrapping gifts, stockers and more.
Gift Drives & Sponsorships
Ten area companies, a foundation, three school districts and four churches sponsored or held gift drives in support of the 2016 Christmas Store, including Ace Hardware, Burrito Parrila Mexicana, C.H. Hanson, Carnicerias Jimenez Inc., Chick-Fil-A, Meier Clinics, Porcayo & Associates Realty, Republic Bank, State Street Jewelers and The Home Depot.
STORIES FROM THE STORE
Natalia: A New Experience
This year was Natalia’s first year at the store. She first learned about the Christmas Store last year, but was too late to register; she made sure that didn’t happen again. Natalia was excited to find her son a skateboard, and her young daughter a baby doll to hug when she goes to bed.
When Natalia’s family came to the USA from Ukraine last year, her son was afraid to go outside. He wouldn’t play with other children because he couldn’t speak the language and didn’t know anyone. Since then, through Puente’s after-school program he has made friends.
Natalia wants to share her gratitude: “Thank you, thank you so much” she says. “This is nice, very nice. Very good for the children, with toys that children like. This (Christmas Store) is a very big job, and it is so good for us, a very big help for us immigrants and refugees, and our children. May God bless you as He has blessed us through you.”
Verónica: Receiving Year-Round Support
When Puente del Pueblo first moved into Main Park Apartments, Verónica and her daughter Michelle were two of the first community members to get involved. Since then, both Verónica and Michelle have been involved at Puente and shopped at the store each year. They had a warm customer service experience again this year but would like to be able to buy more than one gift for Michelle*.
When asked about their time at Puente, Michelle’s face began to beam. Verónica shared how wonderful the staff is and how helpful the programs have been. Through Puente’s programs, Michelle has received help in math and other school subjects, but the relationships are what stand out to them both. When Verónica was sick and needed to go to the hospital, she called Rosie (PdP staff). “It is a good community, very good,” says Verónica. “There is always someone there to help.”
*It is a goal of Puente’s Christmas Store Committee to raise enough support so that we can allow parents to shop for two gifts per child in all age groups. In 2016, we achieved our goal with the exception of the 12 and up age group, which shopped for one gift per child.
Rocio: Serving as a Family
Rocio enjoys the Christmas Store because it is an event where her entire family can come and serve. She and her husband work in the hospitality room, while her children (ages 17 and 21) work as gift runners.
Rocio’s favorite part of being in the hospitality room is seeing the looks on the shoppers’ faces, sharing in the joy of choosing and purchasing Christmas presents for their children with very little money.
Rocio was able to talk with Maria, who does not know how to read. After speaking with Maria about the services offered through Puente, Maria signed up to take literacy classes. Another shopper shared with Rocio that Puente’s after-school programs have helped her daughter tremendously at school.
But the shoppers are not the only ones Rocio sees benefitting from the store. Her own children have grown up serving, and developing a heart of service to others. “That is what is most important to me,” Rocio says. “When my little one goes to college next year, maybe she will have this love of service in her heart.
Threadgill Family: First-Time Volunteers
This family of four – mom, dad and two young girls – volunteered for the first time together this year in the child care room. It was a special day – Lily’s 11th birthday! Both girls enjoyed the cookies at break time, and a chance to help younger children. They realized that after years of looking up to “big kids,” now there were children looking up to them.
Elizabeth, the mom of the family, also volunteered on the team that contacted local businesses for donations. “Everyone we spoke to was very receptive, and everyone contributed in some way – either with gifts or with money.” She appreciates that there is a way for her entire family to volunteer together. “I’m grateful to do this as a family, so the kids can see the process in person and be part of the team. It’s wonderful to see the entire community coming together for a good cause.”