How does this store work?
People donate new gift items, and people who need help for Christmas come in starting December 1 and put items in layaway for their families—not just for children, men and women, too. The items don't have dollar prices. We do a point system, 10, 20 per item. Then we assign the shoppers community service, and instead of being given money, they're given points per hour for their layaways.
Where do they work for their community service?
People rake and clean debris at the Old Gray Cemetery, or go to churches downtown to clean or work on Christmas programs, wherever they need help. It kind of restores your dignity and your self-pride to accomplish something like that to buy presents for the holiday.
Do you have to celebrate Christmas to benefit?
It's not a religious thing, no. We're willing to help anyone if they're willing to do the community service.
Which items are most popular?
Teenage items—MP3 players, CD players, boom boxes, electronics of any type.
Would you want donations of just a few small things?
Anything that people have to offer, as long as it's new and still in its original package. To donate, you can call the VMC and speak to Bruce Spangler, 524-3926, contact me at 973-1590, or drop at CiCi's Pizza at Tazewell Pike or Disc Exchange Chapman Highway. Once the store opens at 619 N. Gay Street, you can also drop there, and there will be more pick-up points.
How did you get involved?
Fourteen years ago, I was a diffusion welder and I got hurt on the job. We didn't have money for Christmas. That was the first year, and I was the first person to ever sign up for the program. I became manager maybe four or five years ago, and assisted for many years before that.