For 41 years, Santa Clara Soroptimists (SISCSV) have been turning the tables on the annual Christmas consumer free-for-all by giving away merchandise at their Christmas Store instead of selling it.
This tradition helps families at or below the poverty line have a happier holiday and a more comfortable new year. The Soroptimists stock the store using contributions and funds raised by the service club’s annual Classy Bag Affaire, as well as some donations from individuals.
“We celebrate the holidays by giving and I am extremely happy to help families in the community,” said Soroptimist and City Council Member Karen Hardy.
This year, the store served 121 families. On Dec. 15, they were up early to “shop” at Wilson Education Center – not for bargains, but for the best selection. In addition to gifts for each member of the family, shoppers went home with a $50 gift certificate, household essentials, brand new blankets and toiletry kits.
“This is the biggest one yet, more gifts donated, more volunteers and an increase in the number of families and children,” said co-chair Marilee Dunn.
For some, the Christmas Store becomes part of their personal Christmas tradition. Long-time Soroptimist Jodie Fillhardt started a new family Christmas tradition with her daughter, who donated 100 stuffed toys from her own collection to the store. “
This year, the Soroptimists partnered with Santa Clara Family Resource Center (FRC) to identify families in need.
“Compared to other organizations, this gives a dignified experience to striving families,” said FRC coordinator Suzy Cortez.
One volunteer was a 2021 recipient of SISCSV’s Live Your Dream scholarship, Renee Mendoza, who now studies sociology and justice at San Jose City College.
“I am grateful for the continued support of SISCSV and follow up on my progress,” she said. “It makes me feel special.”
Next year’s Classy Bag Affaire will be May 18, 2024 at the Santa Clara Marriott. For information about Soroptimists International Santa Clara/Silicon Valley, visit siscsv.com, call 408-838-5254, or email email@example.com.