At this time each year, a room on the second floor of Shawnee Family Health Center (SFHC) in Portsmouth is filled with the spirit of Christmas. Scioto County Church Women United (SCCWU) visit SFHC to host the Christmas Store which provides gifts for clients and their family members.
The 2015 Christmas Store event was held Thursday, and Shelby Powell, current president of SCCWU, said their objective is to reach out and meet some of the needs of SFHC clients. A total of 80 clients actively participated this year, and took home gifts and goods.
“This is a reaching out to the clients that live here on the street, or wherever. They are on their own basically, except when they come in and see the doctors, and get their medication. Some of them have very little, some of them have young children and we try to provide for them too,” Powell said. “Where there is a need, we want to do our very best to meet the needs by collecting and bringing in new, and gently-used items that will help the clients and their children in some way. The clients come in to shop in the afternoon and their caseworkers come with them.”
The Christmas Store is an ecumenical effort among the local churches.
“We are an ecumenical group, and have been sponsoring the Christmas Store for Shawnee clients for several years now,” Powell said. “We bring the items in from the different churches its all donated, and We just provide clothing, and household items, and Christmas items, and whatever good cheer that we can bring for these clients from Shawnee Health. “
The volunteer base for the Christmas Store is composed of volunteers from local churches.
“The helpers that come in for the Christmas Store are from the different churches, and we get set up early in the morning on the Christmas Store day,” she said. “If I didn’t have my little elves, my helpers, I couldn’t do this by myself. It takes a joint effort.”
Carol Plummer, one of the Christmas Store volunteers, said she enjoys volunteering for the event.
“I worked for Scioto County Board of MRDD for 28 years, and I have been involved with this Christmas Store for about the last six years,” Plummer said. “It is very satisfying, I love it. I am just glad that I can help to do this for the people.
Irene Dickey, also a member of SCCWU, said the Christmas Store is a wonderful experience which that she loves being a part of.
“I have been doing this for a number of years, and it is something I really enjoying doing, volunteering at different events, and this is one that I really enjoy under Shelby Powell’s guidance,” Dickey said. “So, that is why I am here today, and we always have a wonderful time.”
Elaine Evans, one of the clinical supervisors at SFHC, said the Christmas Store is advantageous for their clients, and enhances the Christmas holiday experience for them.
“This is my second year to be involved with this, and it meant more to me this time because I’d just moved into a supervisor’s position last year,” Evans said. “I do know that for many of the clients, if not most of our clients the Christmas Store is pretty much their Christmas. It provides a large part of the Christmas that they have for their families, or their kids. “
Longevity for the Christmas Store is the desire, according to Evans.
“We look forward to it every year, and in talking with the volunteers from the different churches, they told me that it is one of their favorite activities as well. It is great to be able to see the clients come in, and to leave with several bags full of items that they can use,” Evans said. “It is an event that is very appreciated, all of the time and effort that women from the churches, and the gentleman that help out to come and provide this for our clients is just wonderful.I think it is a very valuable opportunity for them. I hope this is something that continues for many more years, because I don’t know what we would do without it. I don’t know what our clients would do without it.”
Reach Portia Williams at 740-353-3101, ext. 1929, or on Twitter @PortiaWillPDT.