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Making Christmas: Volunteers help with Christmas Store

Skateboards, basketballs and tea sets lined the floor of the National Guard Armory drill hall Saturday morning in preparation for the annual Oxford Christmas Store.

The Christmas Store is a community-wide effort headed by the Oxford Rotary Club and Interfaith Ministries to make sure presents are under the tree for less fortunate families in the Oxford-Lafayette area.

“We are hoping to reach families that are having trouble giving their children Christmas gifts,” Rotary Club member Jonathan Mattox said.

Parents turned in applications earlier this year with two toys and two books marked for each child. On Saturday, 22 volunteers were separating the toys by family in preparation of next week’s parent pickup.

The parent pickup for toys will be on Saturday, Dec. 19 in the National Guard Armory building off of Sisk Avenue.

Mattox said the effort lets parents decide if they want to mark the presents to their children from Santa Claus or from themselves.

This will be the 40th year for the program and the eighth year for Interfaith and the Rotary Club.  More than 500 children will receive presents as a result of the combined effort as well as the nearly $15,000 donated by the community so far. However, there is still a monetary need.

Mattox said the effort usually takes around $20,000 to fund every family. He said the Christmas Store is still accepting donations and gladly welcome anyone willing to volunteer.

Volunteers of all ages enjoy giving back during the season of giving for the program.

Oxford Middle School student Reagan Davis, 12, has volunteered since she was 5-years-old.

“I really like seeing the parents faces when they pick up the toys,” she said. “They light up with joy and happiness.”

Jennifer Pardoe is completing her second year volunteering with the Christmas Store. She said she enjoys helping people who are less fortunate during the season of giving.

“It’s a fun experience when the parents pick the toys up,” Pardoe said.

So far, the Christmas Store has rallied nearly 80 volunteers to help. The jobs vary and tasks include shopping for items on the wish list, gift wrappers and even door greeters to welcome parents.

“We are still looking for volunteers for next Saturday and we’re always looking for monetary donations,” he said.