A Tarrant County nonprofit is working to make the holidays brighter for families in need and they are doing it with dignity in mind.
The Christmas Cottage, hosted by GRACE Grapevine, has been helping low-income families since 1986.
“It was started with the intention of helping these families. It can be a stressful time for everyone financially,” said Beth Chernik, coordinator of seasonal programs and special events. “Especially families that are low income. Our goal was to help them through that time so that it doesn’t become stressful and that they are able to make decisions. Hopefully to have Christmas traditions for their families and not worrying about having to overextend themselves.”
Organizers say it's about making sure families feel like they can actually shop for their children and get exactly what they want.
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“It's using a point system so our families are able to shop for each one of their family members and get to handpick the items for their children. We know it’s not all about the toys but also something good for the children as well,” Chernik said.
Chernik said last year, the Christmas Cottage served close to 1,000 families. That included 2,000 children and 3,300 individuals. Much of this is possible because of the community’s support.
“We have an incredible community; we couldn't do it without. We really need volunteers. Anywhere along the way, you can help physically. Or, you can donate financially so that we can fill the needs that we know people need in the community. You can also donate toys and household goods because each family will get that. And baked goods. We like to send everyone home with a plate of cookies as well. After all, it’s the holiday season,” Chernik said.
Families who participate in the Christmas Cottage have gone through the GRACE Grapevine intake process and have been selected for the special event.
"While many other organizations in the area are full and now closed, GRACE Christmas Cottage remains open with many appointments still available. We are scheduled to close on the 22nd this year, but we will help right up until Christmas if we receive an urgent call with a need.," Chernik said.
If you or someone you know could use help, GRACE has is ready to serve .