The Illinois budget impasse has created some tough times for many families in our area. For many, it means fewer hours at work or no work at all for more than six months.
The Carbondale Police Department is putting out and wrapping up all kinds of gifts for families. The program is in its 14th year of providing gifts for just $2 each for families in need of a helping hand during the holiday season.
This time of the year, the Carbondale Police Department is full of parents picking out toys and people wrapping up gifts. Carbondale mom Kristina Crawford says being able to pick out gifts for her two kids here is a lifesaver over the holiday season.
"It means a whole lot, because sometimes I'm not able to get them exactly what they want. And a few presents is better than no presents, so it's wonderful," said Kristina.
Thanks to the program, parents who've signed up can walk in to the police department's community Christmas store and pick up to three gifts for each child. From there, members of the police department and county agencies will then wrap those presents to go under the Christmas tree.
It's Kristina's second year coming to the community store to pick up gifts for her kids. She says it's amazing to know there's an option like this that's able to help out families in the community who are struggling to get by, much less put gifts under the tree for their kids.
Susie Toliver, the Crime Victim Advocate with the Carbondale Police Department, says the community store is needed now more than ever due to the state's budget impasse hurting so many in the area.
"So when you think about families that are barely making it and then they lose that income, that's stress on the whole family. So hopefully this helps to relieve some of that," said Susie Toliver, Carbondale Police Crime Victim Advocate.
For the first time, this year families can also pick up a new coat when they pick out their gifts, thanks to help from SIU athletics. It doesn't count as one of the three gifts they can choose, so families say it's great to know they can keep their kids warm while making sure they have something fun to play with.
"And he's been talking about a helicopter so I got him one! Maybe we can build this together, see how it works! But awesome, it's a wonderful, wonderful program," Crawford said.
She says it's a little thing that means the world to her family and many others like it this holiday season.
Toliver says they do a lot of their shopping for next year's community Christmas store right after the holidays. That means they're already looking for donations. For more information or to drop off a donation, you can stop by the Carbondale Police Department at 501 South Washington Street
Carbondale, IL 62901 or call them at (618) 457-3200?.
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