‘Holiday Shop’ gives homeless families hope this Christmas

‘Holiday Shop’ gives homeless families hope this Christmas

COLUMBIA (WIS) - From one family's heart to another family's home, a local giving campaign is allowing some local parents in need to provide for their children in a special way this Christmas.

Imagine a room full of gifts, all collected by local churches who joined together to provide for Midlands families who are working to get back on their feet. Then, enter the parents of those families into the “Holiday Shop.”

“This is wonderful…it’s just wow,” said Zelda Benjamin, a single-mom with two sons, who was one of the first parents to catch a glimpse of the room full of toys. 

All of the toys and items were donated and the “Holiday Shop” was put together by volunteers at Eastminster Presbyterian Church, First Calvary Baptist and the Homebuilders Association.

“Each mother or father will actually come in and they've been given an appointment time, and we have volunteers on hands-and they'll pick our two gifts per child as well as something for themselves,”said Lila Anna Sauls, the Chief Executive Officer of St. Lawrence Place.

For years the two churches have been adopting families from St. Lawrence Place, a two-year transitional program in Columbia whose mission is to help homeless families get back on their feet. This year they added a Christmas twist.

“Up until this year…the families were given a bag, and we kind of decided this year we wanted to empower our familiesactually give them a choice,” said Sauls.

Mom's like Zelda say the opportunity is overwhelming. “You're giving people hope, it's not necessarily the gift...it's just, someone else thought of you,” added Zelda.

Zelda says as she learns to budget on her single-parent income, she wouldn't have otherwise been able to provide Christmas for her kids. “Within a year, I need to be out of [St. Lawrence Place]. I need a home and I have to look beyond right now,” said Zelda.

But she has a message for those who have helped to give her family a Christmas this year. “I would have to quote the Bible that says, ‘When you give to the least of these, you also gave unto me’,”said Zelda. “What they're doing right now is their treasure in Heaven.”

Officials at St. Lawrence Place say there are currently 24 families in the program and 50 children. The “Holiday Shop” was open on Monday only. Some of the families who recently graduated from St.Lawrence Place also got to shop once all of the other families were done.

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