A few years ago, a few Shafter residents were looking for a way to help the community celebrate the holidays without giving a bunch of hand-outs. Melissa Bergen and Katie Wiebe looked into Pride for Parents, hosted by FCS ministries in Atlanta. It emphasized the need to highlight that both donors and recipients want to bring something to the table and that desire should be honored. Though their resources may be limited, parents would rather know that they are providing for their children rather than being given a handout.
And so the Shafter Christmas Store was born. This year's event was held Saturday, Dec. 9, at the Veterans Hall.
The store, under the umbrella of the Shafter Chamber of Commerce, partners with Shafter Healthy Start to select families that are invited to the store. Shafter Healthy Start works with families in the Richland School district to build bridges between the schools and the community and to promote the welfare of children and their families.
Healthy Start connects the Shafter Christmas Store with families, which have an established relationship with the staff. This foundation of trust is critical, as families likely have never participated in an event like this before.
Throughout the fall months, community members, service groups, churches and businesses work together with the Shafter Christmas Store team to collect new toys that are then offered to parents at a one-day shopping event in December at an 80-90% discount.
The Shafter Christmas Store is a special time where the community comes together, not as givers and receivers, but as parents, grandparents, friends, and neighbors celebrating and recognizing each other's worth.