This article was originally published by Jamie Swenson in the Merced County Times, December 2012
In this midst of toy drives, food baskets, and bell ringers, there is a different kind of community giving happening in our backyard. The Winton LifeLine Community Center is hosting a unique experience for families who need a little extra help this holiday season. Rosemary Solis and her team of volunteers at the Winton Community Center are hosting a Christmas Toy Store this week.
Families have set up appointments to purchase Christmas gifts at 20% of their retail value. Solis explains why they ask parents to pay towards the cost of the gifts they choose. She says, “This method gives a sense of pride and ownership to families. It isn’t just a handout but it helps them feel empowered. It helps break the cycle of dependency.”
This idea of breaking the cycle of dependency runs through everything that the LifeLine Center does. They try to do more than simply give a quick fix for community members’ struggles. At the Winton Community Center, volunteers try to form relationships with the families. They do this so that they can support families in their efforts to be self-sufficient.
One volunteer, Julissa Maldonado is excited about the Christmas Toy Store. She remarked that for her, “It’s been a blessing to have people come in and donate the toys. It helps the parents out to be able to choose a toy and pay a discounted price for them.”
Shawn and Paulette Moore came in for their appointment Tuesday morning. The Moores had initially discovered the Center earlier in the month when they had come in seeking signatures for a petition to put handicap accessible sidewalks in on Winton’s major streets. They brought their youngest daughter, a cute young girl with muscular dystrophy, to the center and bought a bike that she can use to strengthen her muscles.
They spent about twenty minutes picking out gifts with Rosemary. They purchased their presents, and wrapped them with gift wrap in the Center. As Shawn and Tomisha Moore were wrapping their gifts, Paulette expressed her thanks for the Center and said, “Lifeline has supported our family. It helped us this holiday season to be able to afford gifts.”
The Moores and many other families in Winton will benefit this holiday season from the kind donations that have built up the holiday store. The money that they spend will be used to keep the Community Center open with public computer access, referrals, and other community resources.
More information about the Winton LifeLine Community Center and the Community Toy Store can be found through the LifeLine Community Development Website at www.lifelinecdc.org, or by contacting Rosemary Solis at (209) 358-6939.