Mission Arlington's Free Christmas Store Provides Gifts for More Than 25,000 Kids

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For the past few weeks, Mission Arlington’s free Christmas store has been open to help families in need pick out gifts for their children.

The store closed Thursday at noon with staff members Friday assisting in emergency gifts and needs on Christmas Eve.

“Toys get stolen. They’ve had fires. Crises happen. They’ve lost toys they’ve shopped for a week ago,” Executive director Tillie Burgin said Friday. “They are so happy when they walk out that door with a bag full of toys, wrapped and going home.”

Burgin said final numbers have not been tallied yet, but they believe more than 25,000 children will have presents to open Saturday thanks to donations made to the organization. Ivania Alvarado of Arlington was one of the families assisted on Friday. Alvarado is the mother of four children.

“I could probably do one or two toys. Kids just like to wrap and unwrap things,” Alvarado said. “It’s hard sometimes, and I learned that myself, to ask for help or accept help or even get dressed to ask for resources for help.”

Burgin said their mission depends on volunteers and donations.

“We’re humbled that the community comes together the way they do to give. Many of the folks that are giving have received. That’s a neat thing because you hear their stories that when they were young in this community and daddy lost their job or somebody died, they came to the mission for help,” she said. “Many, many people we discovered…come back and volunteer, because they know what it means to be helped and when you’re in crisis. So, it’s a neat thing to watch people give.”

For the past 15 years, Gary Locke and his family have been helping Mission Arlington distribute donated bikes to families in need. Locke brought his kids with him to help on Friday.

“As you’re blessing others, we’re blessed as well,” Locke said. “It teaches them to be a servant and we are blessed with time, talent and treasure. We should be good stewards of that, and that’s what we’re trying to do on Christmas Eve.”

For information on volunteer and donation opportunities, click here.

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