Giving back for the holidays: Love INC holds annual Christmas shopping event

 

Family Life Center program participants were able to shop for Christmas gifts at the annual Love INC shopping event. (Ashlyn Korienek/News Advocate)

Family Life Center program participants were able to shop for Christmas gifts at the annual Love INC shopping event. (Ashlyn Korienek/News Advocate)

MANISTEE — Bringing holiday cheer to those in Manistee and Benzie counties, Love INC has provided an annual shopping event for its Family Life Center members for many years.

Not one person had empty hands on Friday at the Faith Covenant Church, as members shopped for various items using points collected throughout the Family Life Center program.

The Love INC Christmas shopping event is held each December as a tradition. Items are donated by community members including bikes, dolls, books, clothing, stuffed animals and even toiletry items.

Robin Paulus, executive director of Love INC, said the program starts up in September, as members earn points for attending classes on topics like cooking or parenting.

“They use the points they earned throughout the season to shop for Christmas presents for their extended family or immediate family,” Paulus said. “We start collecting early on. The donations come from business in the community, individuals bring items in for us, and then, we do get donations throughout the year.”

Well before the event started, dozen of people were lined up outside of the doors. Within 20 minutes, many of the tables were nearly empty, leaving behind only select options.

During the Family Life Center program, members can use earned points on food and toiletry items, as well.

“Anything that’s not used will go into our resource room at the Family Life Center, or if it’s something that we think would be better used next Christmas, then we save it,” she said. “There will be many more people coming by, and by the time it closed there won’t be much left.”

Typically, the Family Life Center serves a hundred people on a weekly basis from both Benzie and Manistee counties.

The program aids low-income families with immediate needs such as food and clothing, through life skills training and relationship building.

“The program is designed to provide education and support to the families, and hopefully, it strengthens their family and gets them through tough times,” she said. “They eat with their family at the center. Volunteers cook the food and help with events.”

All are welcome to attend the free Family Life Center classes throughout the year, which are held on Thursday nights at Manistee’s St. Joseph Parish Center, located at 249 Sixth St.

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Posted by Ashlyn Korienek

Ashlyn is the cops & courts and city reporter for the Manistee News Advocate. You can reach her at (231) 398-3109 or akorienek@pioneergroup.com

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