The annual Christmas Store hosted by Soroptimist International of Santa Clara Silicon Valley returned to an in-person format this holiday season.
On Dec. 11, the Soroptimists and volunteers took over the cafeteria at Scott Lane Elementary School to hand out gift cards and household items to 114 families. They also distributed and wrapped gifts for 236 children.
Andrea, the mother of a one-year-old and a nine-year-old says the help means the world to her and her family.
“It warms my heart,” said Andrea. “It’s very sweet and [I’m] grateful because a lot of family members are struggling during this time with COVID and whatnot. So, the help that comes with this is very, very sweet and kind.”
“It makes me feel good, because it shows that it’s a good community that helps provides for families when they need it,” said Edward, who has a 9-year-old daughter and a baby on the way. “It also makes me feel good that [my kids] see that a community is helping so they’re going to want to help in return with the community.”
Anai works at Scott Lane Elementary School and works with many of the families supported by this event. She came to work on a Saturday to help with the distribution. Anai says the impact is immeasurable.
“To be able to serve and just give back to our families and work with amazing people who not only make these generous donations but also their time, their investment, it brings hope. It gives our students an opportunity,” said Anai. “I just love serving this community. It’s needed so much. After COVID hit, we saw a bigger wave of needs.”
Veronica is a long-time member of the Scott Lane community and works at the school as an attendance clerk. She says her highlight is seeing members of her community get the support they need.
“I love waking up and knowing that they’re getting something,” said Veronica. “Our families are very grateful, that’s for sure.”
In addition to gifts, families received dental kits donated by local dentists and baked goods donated by Safeway.
The Soroptimist has hosted the Christmas Store for the last 38 years with Marilee Dunn in charge of organizing the annual event for almost all of those. Dunn, along with her co-chair Norma Elena Rios, have grown the event through the years and adapted it to a drive-thru event last year when COVID-19 hit.
Dunn says the members find their own joy in hosting the annual event.
“Our members each pick one age group,” said Dunn. “I have one, she loves to do the one- and two-year-olds. She just has more fun than all year, doing this.”
The Christmas Store is funded through the Soroptimist’s annual spring fundraiser, The Classy Bag Affair. It is a handbag auction and luncheon. The next Classy Bag Affair is March 12, 2022, at the Santa Clara Marriott. Visit www.siscsv.com to buy tickets.