ST. CLOUD – If you can afford to buy an extra new gift for the holidays this year, you can add the Kids Hope store to your Christmas list.
On Monday afternoon, the tables at the Hope City church were filled with age-categorized gifts, ready for children to greet and shop for gifts to give to family members this holiday season.
Kids Hope Shop is an annual event where children “shop” a selection of new donated items to select gifts for each member of their family. He is housed at City Hope Church at 413 Franklin Ave. NE to St. Cloud. Children provide information on the number of people they are shopping for and the interests of their family members, and volunteers will help children choose gifts.
In the past, the Kids Hope store has seen about 100 children a day, and each child buys about five gifts for their mom, dad and siblings, said Pastor Carol Jean Smith, founder and director of Place of Hope. Ministries.
But as tables filled on Monday, Smith said the Kids Hope Shop was about 50% of what it needed to deliver gifts to children over the three days. Kids Hope Shop is open Tuesday and is open again Wednesday and Thursday from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Families wishing to participate must register at placeofhopeministries.com/eventregistration.
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Smith said those setting up the shop make sure to spread the word among those living in shelters and halfway houses as well as those living in poverty, but they don’t ask questions at the door. When Kids Hope Shop started in 2000, Smith said, Place of Hope was home to about 25 children.
“They had never experienced giving,” Smith said, noting how much the kids going through appreciated the opportunity to give gifts to their loved ones.
Donations can be accepted until noon Thursday, Smith said. They still specifically need gifts for teenage boys and girls as well as moms and dads. Smith recommends spending $10 to $15 on a gift, and small items are also welcome.
When the children have finished choosing gifts for their family members, they receive a homemade quilt and a take-out meal for each family member.
“It’s the (most fun) thing we do all year,” Smith said.
She said Kids Hope Shop has been around for 20 years.
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