For many, the holiday season is a time for happiness and joy. The idea of giving gifts as well as celebrating with family and friends is commonplace. For some families, the holidays can be a harsh reminder of life’s more challenging moments.
That’s why the team at the Goodwill store in West Lafayette, IN, wanted to make a difference for a family experiencing challenges throughout the year. Rather than hold their usual Secret Santa style gift exchange and holiday party, the store’s team decided to redirect their efforts and adopt a local family for the holiday season.
“Instead of doing our annual Secret Santa this year we want to do a toy drive or something of the sort,” said Robert Jones, a team lead at the West Lafayette Goodwill store. “We wanted to help those in need within our community.”
Together, Robert and fellow team lead Emily Perkins reached out to their Goodwill Guide, a support specialist who helps individuals achieve their goals in education, employment and finance, Eddie Rickenbach. Eddie was able to help the team identify a family of five, including three children, who had recently lost their housing.
Together, the store employees pooled their resources and purchased gifts for the family of five while their guide located safe, affordable housing for the family. With their home now secured, the family had hoped 2020 held no further surprises.
The year did hold one more surprise though. On December 18, a carload of gifts for the children as well as both parents arrived at their new home to flood the space under the family’s Christmas tree. Eddie was happy to see the efforts of the store result in a special moment for this family.
“I knew the store was working hard to help out, but I had no idea how much they had gathered up for the family,” Eddie said. “I didn’t think everything was going to fit in the car!”
December 25, 2020, could have been a difficult memory for a family who was experiencing homelessness and hardship. Instead, thanks to the amazing team at the West Lafayette Goodwill store, their holiday was filled with joy and thankfulness. Thank you, Store 05 West Lafayette!
This story originally appeared in Goodwill of Central and Southern Indiana’s blog. Read more.