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2 0 1 5 T r a d i T i o n s M a g a z i n e 19 they'll be able to hand to their child for Christmas. e VrM titles it their "Christmas store," and it has been a large help in the lives of their staff, par- ticipants, and graduates of the program. Baldwin admitted that dur- ing the time when the VrM was simply handing gifts to children there seemed to have been some- thing missing. of course, she felt that the organization was provid- ing a valuable service to the com- munity, but it was falling short of hitting its target. every year they attract be- tween 70 and 75 participants for the Christmas store and the VrM asks for only a $5 entry fee. However, once they enter all the gifts are free. is way parents can pick up a gift, wrap it at the store and have it prepared for their children for Christmas. e Christmas store is one of their most indi- rect forms of aid for people in the community that the VrM provides. But they play a more traditional role as well. as families begin to feel their holiday cheer emerge in november, soon after Halloween, they begin their search for clothes to give, and look to their calendar to find dates to donate their time. Baldwin notes that the impact of volunteers is at its strongest during anksgiving and Christ- mas. Both holidays feature a hearty meal for those who reside in the VrM shelter, and gifts tend to flood in. not all the gifts are handed out to children or adults associ- ated with the program. as well, not all the canned food is handed out either. according to Baldwin, if there is a surplus of donations, they are handed out to the home- less who are not necessarily at the VrM shelter. ere is an obvi- ous effort made by the VrM to service not just those that avail themselves to the VrM but even those who do not. Baldwin notes that the venture is called Homeless Project Connect. However, people don't always have to donate their time or their older clothes. ey instead can donate when they are at the VrM thrift stores as well. sheri White, director of thrift operations, notes that customers can donate $1.92 to pay for a meal or round it up to an even $2. For a cost that is so little, they might be able to help a child, or those who go without food, eat for at least one day. White even noted that she has had family members call her and let her know that they had "rounded up" that day when they visited rescued Treasures or simply Chic Boutique, both operated by the VrM. as well, those who choose to donate do not have to donate in terms of serving meals. With VrM's thrift stores, there is a large need for volunteers to sort through clothes, and other donated items. Baldwin notes that with so much more diversity among the ser- vices they offer, there are more people turn- ing out to help, not only during the holidays, but at other times of the year as well. donations are a great way to show generosity for those who you might not know. it proves that there is still a car- ing spirit for the abstract. e VrM helps to facilitate that holiday spirit of doing more than just handing over a gift or donating time. instead, they are doing something that brings families to- gether with their Christmas store. at gift is something that lasts more than a year; it will bring memories that can last a life time. "It was a great idea that we modeled after 'Christmas with Dignity.' We are just huge fans of it." L I N D S AY B A L D W I N d i r e c t o r o f V o l u n t e e r s , V r M

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