In Santa Clara there’s a local store that counters the conventional holiday retailing whirl by giving instead of selling.
It’s the Santa Clara Soroptimists’ annual Christmas store, a nearly 30-year tradition that helps families at or below the poverty line have a happier holiday and a more comfortable New Year. This year’s event brought happiness to about 100 families, and smiles to the faces of 285 boys and girls.
The Soroptimists stock the store using contributions, money raised by the service club’s fundraisers, donations and special deals from local businesses, and grants from the Mission City Community Fund – which donated $5,000 for this year’s Christmas Store.
Like other holiday shoppers, patrons of the Soroptimist Christmas Store were up early Saturday morning to “shop” – although it was for the best selection, not the best bargains. In addition to gifts for each member of the family, shoppers went home with two bags of groceries, baked goodies, small appliances like coffeemakers and toaster ovens, toiletries, warm comforters, new toys for the kids, and gift cards from Target and Safeway.
The Christmas store is always a good barometer of economic conditions, and this year it’s measuring more rough times. “We had more families involved and added [families from] a fourth elementary school this year. We also help 15 families from the Dialysis Center in Santa Clara County,” reports Marilee Dunn who co-chaired the Christmas Store with Norma Elena Rios.
The club tries to buy as much as possible in locally, and is solidly supported by local businesses. “Safeway Stores furnished over $2000 worth of food,” says Dunn. “Dentists in Santa Clara Valley have been very generous over the years providing dental care products. Westgate Beauty Supply furnished many bath and beauty products for our families to choose from.”
But it’s volunteers that make the Christmas Store happen. All 16 members of Santa Clara Soroptimists played Santa’s helpers by buying gifts. ADC Engineers’ employees lent a helping hand, and with Santa Clara Unified students and Soroptimist-sponsored high school service clubs, packed the food baskets and wrapped presents.
And if it’s true that it’s more blessed to give than to receive, then the Santa Clara Soroptimists are truly blessed, says Dunn. “It’s a gift that gives back to each and every one of us who participate.”
For information about Soroptimists International, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (408) 461-8181.