"... Though it's become a tradition for many households and congregations to
fulfill a child's wish list for families who can't do it on their own, a
growing number of ministries are replacing that charity model with what
they believe can be a more uplifting approach. From Rogers Park to
Garfield Park, ministries in Chicago have opened pop-up Christmas stores
where families can afford to check off their child's list thanks to
donated merchandise offered at drastically reduced prices, if not for
Though many Christians bemoan the retail industry's hold on the holidays, some ministries have found that enabling parents to put gifts under their own trees, in many cases, restores a sense of dignity that's often lost when families are in need.
"Everybody gets to work together to make something wonderful happen," Williams said as volunteers wrapped Christmas and birthday presents for her youngest daughter last weekend. "It helps me feel good about myself."
The shopping opportunity also pushes patrons to take steps toward improving their lives. At Bethel, a Lutheran ministry in Garfield Park, more than 700 families earned additional currency called Bethel Bucks by attending seminars on parenting, financial management and renters' rights. ..."