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Christmas Store lives on after cancellation

It came as no shock last week when it was announced that the annual Shafter Christmas Store had been canceled, but it was still a disappointing one for many families who had shopped online for their children in the program that allows families to buy toys for their children at discounts.

This program was started a few years ago by a group of volunteers, giving families the satisfaction of buying their own presents for their kids. Toys are donated by local businesses and people, with select families able to shop in the store, buying them at about 10% of their retail value.

Due to safety concerns, the event was canceled, leaving the fate of the families and the accumulated toys in the air.

Melissa Bergen, of Listen to Shafter, said that they decided to donate the toys to the Shafter Healthy Start organization. After the donation was made, work started on getting the toys packaged up. The majority of the Christmas Store's participants had already picked out their toys and ordered them.

Volunteers then packaged the toys, made sure they were going to the correct families, and got them ready so the families were able to pick them up.

"We had help from so many people and organizations," said Bergen. "We understand that we have to keep everyone safe, which is the most important issue, but it was great that we were still able to give these families the Christmas that they were hoping for."

Margaret Ramirez, of the Shafter Healthy Start, said that they have been working hard to get the presents ready, as well as a lot of different events that are taking place to give the residents of Shafter who need it most, a special holiday.

"We are so thankful to all of the people and organizations who were able to help us make this such a special event," Ramirez said.


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