Holiday Shoppe helps serve families in need with gifts

holiday shoppe
Holiday Shoppe is put on by Wartburg's social work department to help families in need in Waverly — Erin Ridgeway/TRUMPET

With the holiday season around the corner, the social work department is once again busy preparing for a record number of children to serve. For Holiday Shoppe director Brooke Lentz this time of year is full of anticipation.

“We are extremely excited to serve the families,” Lentz said. “We anticipate serving close to 800 children.”

For the past 20 years, the Wartburg social work department has partnered with the Iowa Department of Human Services to put on Holiday Shoppe, a service providing gifts for underprivileged families during the holiday season.

Holiday Shoppe faculty adviser Arthur Peters, said, the event began in the late 1980’s when the Department of Human Services asked the social work department to put on Holiday Shoppe for Bremer County.

Each year, the Iowa Department of Human Services makes a list of families eligible for the event based on annual income.

In recent years, this demand has risen even higher because of the uncertain economy  Peters said.

“Holiday Shoppe provides the Waverly community [including Wartburg] with a direct, tangible way to help those in Bremer County who are living with chronic economic insecurity,” Peters said.

Gift giving trees are already set up at different sites around the Wartburg Campus including the Mensa, “The W,” library and chapel. Members of the Wartburg community can take an ornament off the tree and buy the gift written on the ornament.

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Lentz also said there are other ways to help and anyone can get involved.

“If you’re a student, we always look for volunteers to either staff the Shoppe or provide child care during the Shoppe,” Lentz said.

Trevor Dismore has helped with Holiday Shoppe over the past few years and said the event is a great way for Bremer County residents to support their community.

“It’s a great event because it gives the Wartburg community, Waverly community and surrounding communities the opportunity to make an impact in other families lives,” Dismore said.

Some of the gifts include toys, games, books and other charitable items.

Community members are even encouraged to make scarves and blankets, or donate gently-used or new clothing items.

This year, Holiday Shoppe is partnering with SHARE, a state-wide, non-profit food organization, to provide food baskets for 30 families in the community as well.

Holiday Shoppe is planned for Monday, Dec. 3, and Tuesday, Dec. 4, at Redeemer Lutheran Church in Waverly, where families will wait in line to receive their gifts.

For Peters, the end rewards greatly justify all the hard work students and faculty put in,

“It’s very rewarding to see the families benefiting directly from what we’re able to give them and they’re just always so thankful for the little bit they have,” Lentz said.

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