A West Side Christmas market that’s served residents for nearly two decades needs help making sure families have gifts for the holidays.
The Breakthrough Christmas Store is an annual shopping event where East Garfield Park residents shop for gifts at deeply discounted prices through the Breakthrough Bucks program. The gifts are donated by neighbors.
This year’s market is 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Dec. 17 at Breakthrough FamilyPlex, 3219 W. Carroll Ave.
Organizers hope to collect 5,000 gifts for 500 families, but they are only 15 percent of the way to their goal, said Lindsey Tollefson, communications coordinator for Breakthrough.
Neighbors can drop off unwrapped gifts 7 a.m.-8:30 p.m. Monday-Friday and 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday at Breakthrough’s Carroll Avenue location.
Items that can be donated include toys, books, clothes, electronics, personal care supplies and home goods. Here’s a list of ideas.
“Those are things that families at any age can utilize,” said Gynger Garcia, a community liaison for Breakthrough and organizer. “I think it’s been one of our biggest and most popular events because it caters to all ages, and so we also have our guests at our homeless intervention and permanent supportive housing centers come in and access gifts for themselves, as well.”
The deadline for dropping off gifts is Dec. 15.
You also can buy gifts off the organization’s registries on Amazon and Target, which will be sent directly to the West Side nonprofit. People can also donate money for Breakthrough to buy gifts for the Christmas Store. All donations made by Friday will be matched by a donor, Garcia said.
“It really is a nice blend of Breakthrough friends and donors and partners, us reaching out to them creating Christmas wish lists online or they are also able to make financial contributions,” Garcia said.
The Breakthrough Christmas Store event, which started nearly 20 years ago, will also have arts and crafts, cookie decorating, karaoke, music and a hospitality area for people coming to shop.
“Everything that Breakthrough does, we really try to hold and honor the concept of dignity, and so [it’s] really trying to find a way for families to provide for their own homes and their own family members each holiday season in a way that is dignifying,” Garcia said.
“So not giving away or handing out, but moreso providing a space for them to come in and purchase items for their families.”
The event is primarily for East Garfield Park residents, who will be able to buy gifts at a nearly 90 percent discount, Garcia said. Shoppers will need to make an appointment in person at the Breakthrough FamilyPlex starting Monday, she said.
Breakthrough would welcome any help in getting gifts for the Christmas Store, Garcia said.
“Everything we do here at Breakthrough is with the dignifying concept first, so this helps provide families the opportunity to come in and get what they need for their family members this holiday season,” Garcia said.