Nonprofit That Helps Parents Shop For Gifts Sees Need Double

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Many people feel the pressure to find the perfect holiday gift and can fall into overspending during the holiday season. The CEO of Grace Grapevine says that for families that are already struggling financially, the holidays can send some into a financial tailspin. The nonprofit focuses on crisis intervention year-round and as part of its mission, volunteers and donors help hundreds of parents provide a happy holiday without going deeper into debt.

Starting December 8, the Grace Christmas Cottage will fill up with parents searching the shelves for toys to light up their children’s faces on Christmas morning.

“Families really choose toys that mean something for their kids, even take a family gift home for their family as a whole, like a Crockpot or a coffee maker or set of new towels. Whatever that looks like, we want them to be able to celebrate Christmas holiday and not wake up in January with a bill that they can't afford,” said Grace Grapevine CEO Shonda Schaefer.

“Christmas can be a real pitfall for someone who's still kind of just trying to make those ends meet."

Schaefer wants the families they serve to focus on becoming financially stable and let Grace handle the holidays.

At the Christmas Cottage, volunteers guide parents as they trade points for a few presents per child. They also leave with wrapping paper, stocking stuffers, batteries and cookies. More than gifts, Schaefer cherishes the memories families create during their shopping experience.

She got emotional while sharing a story about a father of four whose wife was battling terminal cancer when he made his way to the Christmas Cottage.

“Volunteers, because they're just so amazing, Facetimed her. So, they got her on her cell phone and together, husband and wife had the opportunity to go round and pick out all the toys. She got to be a part of her last Christmas with children. Those stories happen every day,” she said.

More than 600 families have signed up and they’re expecting to serve more than 2400 children through the Christmas Cottage this year.

They’ve seen their numbers more than double since the start of the pandemic. During a typical year, they see roughly 5,000 clients. By the end of August 2020, the number for the year topped 11,000. Organizers believe they will need up to 15 percent more toys than last year, which was more than double pre-covid years.

Grace Grapevine is accepting donations of new unwrapped toys, clothing, and technology items. If donors run into issues finding items to buy and donate due to supply chain related shortages, they’re asking for gift cards.

Grace Christmas Cottage kicks off with an open house on Wednesday, December 8th at 1058 Texas trail, Grapevine. You can learn more here.

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