Spending time with family, lifting the spirits of those around you, and the joy of giving. No matter the time of year, these are some of the best ways to spread cheer. But at our Solano County office, it was “Christmas in July”!
Over the final two weeks of July, Uplift Family Services hosted “store hours” for children and their families to “shop” through our donation items. A temporary storefront was set up in an unoccupied area of the office to allow for safe roaming and families were invited, one at a time, to delve into the rows of inventory.
Just Like a Real Store
“This is just like Ross!” one youth exclaimed upon walking in.
Indeed, it was. Toys, games, shoes, clothing, household wares, and other items were piled on tables, stacked on shelves, and laid in large plastic bins. There was more than enough to send everyone home with smiles and new supplies.
“This was the best day of my life,” remarked another of the youth.
The joy didn’t end with the children and families, though. Staff noted how much fun it was to witness and participate in a special kind of joy that is typically reserved for special occasions such as birthdays, graduations, or holidays. As our Solano Associate Clinical Director Jennifer MacKinnon noted, seeing the children’s (and parents’) eyes light up when they walked into the makeshift store was a truly rewarding experience for the staff and volunteers.
Health and Safety Still a Priority
Now, since this is 2020 and nothing is as it used to be, we had many protocols in place for everyone’s health and safety. Families who were identified by our clinicians as being in need could schedule a 45-minute appointment in advance. Only one child or teen and one parent or caregiver was allowed in at a time. Wellness screens were administered the day before arrival and again at the office to detect COVID-19, per county guidelines. And staff cleaned surfaces and items between each group.
“It was surreal having so many people coming through the office again,” said Jennifer MacKinnon.
In total, more than 26 families were able to experience the fun of a mid-summer shopping spree. More families who were unable to make it during the scheduled two weeks were contacted to see if there were any items they could use.
A special thank you to the amazing staff who helped make this possible including LaDonna Christoffersen, April Alcantara, Ron and Melissa Scott, Jennifer MacKinnon, and the entire Solano office for making “Christmas in July” a success.