Glasgow and Valley County are full of giving people. The community gives in times of need. The children’s Christmas store has been an annual tradition for nearly two decades. It may have switched through hands of different organizations, but it has always somehow continued.
In the last few years, Milk River Inc. has taken on the torch. The store is all about the season of giving.
Children, ages 2 to 14, gathered at the Elks Lodge in Glasgow on Saturday, Dec. 21, between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. They weren’t there for their own needs; they were there to find gifts to give to others. Those gifts cost them $1 and under. Much of the time they left with a large box full of items for their families.
The circle of giving started with the community.
The director of Milk River Inc ., Connie Wethern, said that so much of the community participated in donations this year. Businesses, individuals, families and other community members all pitched in several items for the Christmas store. Tables were lined with toys, household goods, Christmas decorations and almost any other gift wares you might think of. Even wrapping paper was donated so the Nashua 4-H group could keep gifts a secret from parents and family members that brought the children.
“Some of these items are still new, with the tags on them,” Wethern said. “It’s amazing to see the community support.”
Wethern told a story that took place on that morning led to more giving to the children. A woman who went for breakfast that morning was surprised to find someone had paid for her.
It’s a Christmas tradition spreading the nation over the past year. Random Acts of Kindness (RAK) occur to random strangers in hope the acts of kindness will continue. After this woman found her bill was paid, she decided to step forward and pay $10 for a few children who came into the Christmas store that morning. That $10 paid for two children. The children and parents were surprised by the act and by the amount of items that $5 could by.
“It’s been fun with these kids, seeing them leaving with their smiles and their gifts,” Wethern said. “The kids get so excited.”
The idea is to provide children a way to give for Christmas when many of them don’t have much for means to buy gifts. It gives them a sense of pride and teaches them about the joys of giving. Wethern explained that parents have come in and told about their kids in the previous years, just waiting with excited eyes and large grins to open the gifts they chose for their families.
After the store closes for the children in the afternoon, Milk River clients get a chance to buy gifts for their loved ones as well. Clients and adults with developmental disabilities also get to enjoy the gift of giving to those they care about this season.
As the volunteers that came to help run the store this year boxed up the remains of donations, they knew that next year the gifts from the community would have another chance to be Christmas gifts next year. Volunteers included Milk River staff, a few organizations, the board of directors, and others who showed up looking to volunteer.
Wethern said that in previous years Scotties Daycare provided the Christmas store, and before that the EMTs in the area provided it. As one organization finished the tradition, another one has picked up the torch to continue a local tradition.