“In 2008 I saw a story on television that had to do with how the state of the economy at the time affected kids at the holidays,” administrative assistant and Santa Shop coordinator Julie Hill said. “Specifically, that their parents didn’t have enough [money] to buy Christmas for themselves because they were worried about getting it for their kids, and so the kids would then see that, they would feel guilty that mom and dad weren’t getting anything for Christmas.”
She said the school put together the first Santa Shop in two weeks and was able to serve 31 students. Last year the Santa Shop allowed 124 students to shop.
“[The first year] it was just a handful of staff and myself and now almost every member of this school, in one way or another, helps. We have the support of ... [churches] and businesses and that has grown exponentially,” Hill said.
She said the need for assistance with the Santa Shop grows as the date for the shop approaches.
“We need so much more help before the actual day the shoppers actually go shop,” Hill said, adding she is able to place people in a variety of areas to help with the organization of the shop. “We’re doing committees because people want to help, but they’re going to help more if they’re doing something they’re comfortable doing.
“Not everybody is comfortable asking for funds or working on fundraisers, some people really want to work with the kids and others are like, ‘This is a great idea, but I’m not a kid person so put me behind the scenes.’ I can find a spot for everybody, but I want people to work where they’re comfortable and where they’ll do the most good.”
Hill said she appreciates the efforts of the community in helping the Santa Shop become a success.
“The community is so generous and I’ve run out of ways to describe how generous people can be from year to year,” she said. “That overwhelming feeling of people just coming together to help less fortunate kids and it’s growing bigger and bigger every year.”
For donations, the shop is seeking the following:
• Gift cards or gift certificates for retail, restaurants and services;
• New, or very gently used, smaller-than-a-breadbox gifts for adults;
• Items for women include jewelry, bath items, candles and scarves;
• Items for men include tools, cologne, hats and sunglasses;
• Wrapping paper, gift bags and wrapping supplies;
• No clothing, toys or children’s items;
• The shop also is taking monetary donations.
Donations may be delivered to the school, located at 224 Old Alabama Road, Emerson. For more information, call 770-606-5865.