T
he circumstances that bring parents to the store have been building for months, if not years. And the ways the lives of families in the community are touched by their experiences with the Christmas Store continue to ripple through their lives long after their shopping day.

2018 Snapshot

(Download 2018 Snapshot PDF)
240 families served
661 children served
395 volunteers
served 2,596 hours
Elizabeth is the mother of six kids-ages 3, 7. 8, 10, 12 and 15-and this is her third year shopping. She says:

At Christmas we get together with the whole family. The store is great and so helpful. There is a good variety of gifts, and I was able to find something for everyone. It is so much more affordable to shop here than out in the stores.

Elizabeth learned about Puente from her sister, whose own children were enrolled in Puente's after-school programs. She decided to enroll her children, too. Elizabeth says:

It's been great. Personally, it has helped me a lot. I have many kids and the Puente teachers help them with their homework. So this way, I can come home from work before they are home and then we can spend time together.
- Elizabeth
The Christmas Store was able to increase the number of families served by 27% in 2018 by engaging local business and corporate partners like Chase Bank. Melissa is a Chase area manager who manages a team that works exclusively with small businesses. She learned about the Christmas Store through her client, Burrito Parilla (also a sponsor of the Christmas Store) owners Martin and Manny. Last year, Chase supported the store through a toy drive, but this year they wanted to be involved on a different scale. Their team did a toy drive in August during their scheduled strategy meeting. Melissa reflects:

There are so many 'asks' at Christmas so we did ours during this meeting in August. Matthew did a nice job giving context as to where their gifts were going, what it means and what the store is trying to do. He allowed people to see the meaning in their contributions.

People want to give during the holidays, and the easier you can make it for them the better. What everyone appreciates about the store is the philosophy around giving. Making sure that people have dignity, high touch relationships. That really resonated with us when Matthew came out to present. I don't think we tend to put our holiday giving into context when we give toys to gift-drives, we don't think about the experience for the recipient. At the Christmas store, parents are able to shop, to choose. I liked how this retains dignity.
- Melissa from Chase Bank
Lupe lives in Main Park apartments, and though her three children are too young to attend the after-school program she is involved in Puente. Lupe was excited about her experience at the store this year because her seven-year old daughter was hoping for a bicycle...and she found one! Not only was it exactly the size her daughter needed, it was pink...exactly what she had hoped for. Lupe spent some time excitedly brainstorming: how will I hide this bike for the next two weeks?!

She realized that her five year old daughter would also love a bike, an dmight be disappointed. But not too dissapointed, for Lupe also found Shopkins toys at the storetoday, which her five-year-old loves but are not affordable elsewhere.

This was a signifcant help for Lupe, who is a single mom and has had a particularly stressful several months. When she scheduled her appointment, she was disappointed to realize there were no spots left before 10:30am. Based on her experience with holiday charity, she assumed this meant the best items would be taken. But Puente's Christmas store volunteers intentionally sort gifts such that shoppers at any appointment time have an equitable selection. This was a meaningful surpris for Lupe.

Today, Lupe was able to purchase just what her children wanted--she is excited and grateful.
- Lupe
Stasey is sixteen years old, a sophomore at West Chicago Community High School. She's been involved with Puente since the 3rd grade when she joined the Puente del Nino after-school program. Stasey continued in Puente through middle school, and now the high school program. An eight-year participant with Puente, she volunteered as an intern this past year in Puente's summer program, which opened the door for her to attend the college trip.

Stasey first heard about the Christmas Store through her youth group, when Rosie mentioned she would make a good volunteer. Last year she worked as a runner, bringing gifts out to the shoppers' cars. This year, Stasey volunteered at Shopper Registration, giving out name tags to people when they arrived and making sure they came at the right time. She says:

It's a big job, keeping track of so many people. But I wanted to give back to Puente for all they've given to me and my family. Matthew and Rosie have done so much for us, and it's so cool to give back. After interning in the summer program, I realize that we students never really see from the teachers' point of view. I don't think we knew how much they were giving to us, how much they pour into us. This store is a great help. If families don't have a lot of money they can't buy Christmas presents for their kids. But here at the store there is variety and it helps so much.
- Stasey