The Shafter Christmas Store was held last weekend, a return from the online store that was available last year, with parents participating in a program that enables parents to buy presents for their children at heavily discounted prices. This program has been helping Shafter residents have a merrier Christmas for a few years now.
Began in 2017, the idea was born out of a desire by the City of Shafter's Brittney Neal-Soberanis to change a Christmas program that she was involved in. She wanted the program to help give parents of disadvantaged residents in Shafter dignity around Christmas time that is not available with some programs. The Christmas Store, instead of giving children presents, gives parents a chance to select and purchase presents for their children themselves.
In the fall months, individuals, businesses and organizations hold collection events, where toys and items are donated to the Christmas Store organization. Those items are then made available for the parents selected to participate in the program to buy for their children.
Then, a store event is held at the Shafter Veterans Hall, where the parents are invited to shop at the store and select their own children's toys and items to buy. They also can help wrap the presents after their purchase.
Katie Wiebe and Melissa Bergen were instrumental in operating the Christmas Store, as well as a host of volunteers that help do everything from collections and wrapping, to setting up the store.