Puente del Pueblo
This year, 240 families came to shop, serving 661 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.
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
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.”
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.”
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.”