The annual Christmas Store was held December 8, 2018. Both Outreach Community Center in Carol Stream and Puente del Pueblo hold annual Christmas Stores, open to the families living in the neighborhoods served by each resource center. The Christmas Store allows qualifying families to purchase gifts for their children at a savings of 75% off retail price. This is a win-win! Purchasing affordable presents honors parents and grandparents, while proceeds from the store are designated to the site’s case management services, helping local families throughout the year who need financial assistance.

Outreach Community Center in Carol Stream

SHOPPERS

This year, 350 families shopped for 959 local children. Families without monies to shop at the time of the store meet with an OCC case manager to determine if a voucher is warranted.

COMMUNITY SUPPORT

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.

VOLUNTEERS
402 people selflessly volunteered in 2018. Volunteer work begins months before the store. Roles include check-in, translators, drivers, child care, helping shoppers, wrapping gifts, stockers and more.

STORIES FROM THE STORE

Volunteer
“This was my first year volunteering. I thought everything was very well thought out and the items available were such a blessing to the families. A couple that I helped told me that their son had been asking for a walkie talkie set for weeks, but they couldn’t afford it in the retail store. When they saw it on the table at the Christmas Store for $6, they became emotional and were so appreciative that they could bless their son with his heart’s desire.”

Volunteer
“I have been volunteering at the Christmas Store for several years as a shopper helper. This year I helped a young mom who was six months pregnant. She told me she was overwhelmed by the expenses related to preparing for a baby while providing for her other child, as well. I asked her if there was a particular baby item that she needed. She told me she needed a Pack and Play. I had seen several of them in the store, but when we went in, they were gone. All of a sudden, a worker brought out a Pack and Play to the table and she was able to purchase it for $12! She was so thankful and explained how helpful this would be for her and her family. It may seem like a small thing, but it meant a great deal to her.”

Shopper
“I have a special needs child and I was worried about bringing her to the Christmas Store. I knew they had child care available, but I wasn’t sure my child would feel comfortable going into the child care room, and I wondered if I would even be able to shop. The volunteers were so caring and inviting, and they had great activities set up so my child felt comfortable. I was able to shop at the Christmas Store and had no worries that my child was being well cared for, and that is a rare feeling for a mom with a special needs child!”

Shopper
“Our family has experienced some hardship this year due to our hours being cut at work. We didn’t have much money to shop for Christmas gifts for our three children. My wife and I were planning to purchase one toy for all of them to share. The toys at the Christmas Store were so affordable that we were able to purchase two gifts for each child with the $35 we managed to save. We also received a free winter coat, some winter wear and pajamas for free for the children! I can’t wait to see the smiles on their faces. Christmas will be a special day in our family because of the Christmas Store!”

350 families served

959 children served

402 volunteers

Puente del Pueblo

SHOPPERS

This year, 240 families came to shop, serving 661 children.

COMMUNITY SUPPORT

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.

VOLUNTEERS
395 people selflessly volunteered. Volunteer work begins months before the store. Roles include check-in, translators, drivers, child care, helping shoppers, wrapping gifts, stockers and more.

STORIES FROM THE STORE

Volunteer
Stasey is 16 years old and a sophomore at West Chicago Community High School.  She’s been involved with Puente since the 3rd grade when she joined the Puente del Nino after-school program. Stasey continued in Puente through middle school, and now the high school program. An eight-year participant with Puente, she volunteered as an intern this past year in Puente’s summer program, which opened the door for her to attend the college trip.

Stasey first heard about the Christmas Store through her youth group, when Rosie mentioned she would make a good volunteer. Last year she worked as a runner, bringing gifts out to the shoppers’ cars. This year Stasey volunteered at shopper registration. She gave out name tags to people when they arrived and made sure they came at the right time.

She says, “It’s a big job, keeping track of so many people. But I wanted to give back to Puente for all they’ve given to me and my family. Matthew and Rosie have done so much for us, and it’s so cool to give back. After interning in the summer program, I realize that we students never really see from the teachers’ point of view. Now I can see from the view of the student and the leader. I don’t think we knew how much they were giving to us, how much they pour into us. This store is a great help. If families don’t have a lot of money they can’t buy Christmas presents for their kids. But here at the store there is variety and it helps so much.”

Shopper
Elizabeth is the mother of six kids, ages 3, 7, 8, 10, 12, 15, and this is her third year shopping. She says, “At Christmas we get together with the whole family. The store is great and so helpful. There is a good variety of gifts, and I was able to find something for everyone. It is so much more affordable to shop here than out in the stores.”

Elizabeth learned about Puente from her sister, whose own children were enrolled in Puente’s after-school programs. She decided to enroll her children, too. Elizabeth says, “It’s been great. Personally, it has helped me a lot. I have many kids and the Puente teachers help them with their homework. So this way, I can come home from work before they are home and then we can spend time together.”

Volunteer
Enoch Haven is the Pastor of Men’s Discipleship at Community Fellowship, but at the Christmas Store he is the photographer.

Enoch says, “The Christmas Store is such an incredible event. Volunteers are so happy, so excited and invested. Everywhere I look people in white shirts are smiling and happy. I see families serving together, families of five who do this together every year. The Christmas Store brings our church together in ways that I rarely see in other events. There are so many from our church here today, and so excited about it.

“This is a special event for me because I live in Timberlake apartments. A lot of the people attending the store are my neighbors, and it’s cool to realize I know the kids receiving these gifts. I love that we are a church that cares about the community in which we live. This is an opportunity for us to serve, to share the love of Christ with our physical neighbors. The kids receiving these gifts, I see them hanging out at Timberlake in the common areas. When I come home, they open the doors for me when I’m carrying things up to my apartment on the third floor. They have been good to me. I see the moms and dads walking them to school every day, a parade of families. It’s a good community. It’s a blessing to be part of this.

“When we listen to Christ’s call and example of loving, of serving others, we experience the blessings of Christ. When you share his love in tangible ways, you experience the gift of his presence.”

240 families served

661 children served

395 volunteers