About Renewal's Christmas Store
Started in 2016
Serves families in our community (near Post Road & 42nd St on the Far Eastside of Indianapolis)
Our community consists of mainly Black & Latino families who are living below the poverty line
In 2022, we served 135 families who purchased gifts for 596
A Hand Up,
Not a Hand Out
Our Christmas Store gives parents the opportunity to purchase gifts for their children at a significantly decreased cost.
The “store” approach allows parents to put gifts under the tree that are from them, rather than accepting miscellaneous items from anonymous donors. This allows us to support families without taking away their dignity by making their Christmas dependent on the charity of others. They choose the gifts their kids would like. Each gift is selected specifically by the parent, is wrapped by our volunteers, then tagged with handwritten tags by the parent.
Families are also given the opportunity to identify needs and prayer requests and even to pray with store volunteers.
We often use information we obtain from the Christmas Store to reach out to families to help address other needs they may have and invite them to attend our worship services.
I got a new backpack
"I got a new backpack," one of the first graders in our after-school program announced proudly. It was the first day back to school after Christmas break and this little girl was telling one of our volunteers about her holiday. I looked and immediately recognized the backpack. It had come from our Christmas Store. It wasn't the backpack itself but her sweet, pure enthusiasm for the simple gift that caught my attention.
My first reaction was to nose in on her joy by telling her that I knew where the backpack came from. Luckily, I caught myself. She doesn't know anything about the Christmas Store. All she knows is that her mom got her a really cool backpack for Christmas and now she was getting a chance to show it off. And that's exactly as it should be.
The Christmas Store is not first about the kids, but really about the parents. Parents who can spend their own hard-earned money buying presents for their kids, presents they pick out themselves, presents they get to put under the tree from themselves. This isn't a bunch of suburbanites providing random one-size-fits-all donations to strangers. This is simply followers of Jesus showing love for others in our community because of the love Christ first showed us. It is a hand up, not a hand out. This is partnership, not pity.
It brought me joy seeing that little girl so enthusiastic about a gift that I knew she had received as a result of the generosity of one of my brothers or sisters. But that joy does not compare to the satisfaction I have knowing the joy this little girl's mommy had when she got to put that gift under the tree and then watch her daughter open it. Praise God for the opportunity to serve those in need and for touching the hearts of so many to make that possible!
How to get involved
Sign up to volunteer
Buy something from our Amazon wish list or donate to the Christmas store
Donate to help us expand and hire a social worker. The conversations we have with community members at the store often reveal specific needs that go beyond our expertise and capacity to help. We want to hire a full-time social worker and need the funds to provide a salary.
If you'd like to donate to our Christmas store or another program, you can give online or by mail to Renewal Neighborhood Ministry 8748 Bel Air Drive, Indianapolis, IN 46226.