With five children and a limited income, Christmas was a difficult time for Ashely Horskin until she discovered Gifts from the Heart. Each year the pop-up program provides toys and gifts for children and teens.
“Before Gifts from the Heart, it was a struggle,” said Horskin, who has depended on the program for the past four Christmases.
The program is not a handout, but rather a way for hard-working parents like Horskin to purchase new presents for their children at a deep discount. Gifts from the Heart adheres to a philosophy that parents, even ones with very limited means, prefer to provide for their families.
Individuals, groups and businesses help to stock up this bright Christmas Shopping Village with toys listed in gift registries for Amazon, Target and Walmart. Donors might want to give other toys as well. Donors can access these registries at giftsfromtheheartshop.org.
The gifts target children from 2 to 18 years old, with almost half of the gift needs in the 12 to 18 group. Parents can purchase up to three toys per child in the family. All gifts are deeply discounted and nothing, including even new bikes, costs parents more than $18.
“It’s affordable even to people with no means,” said program co-chair, the Rev. Joy Willard-Williford, noting that unemployed parents can volunteer in one of the various organizations involved in order to earn shopping credit.
All shoppers are parents involved with one or more of participating nonprofits that serve families living on the economic margin of the community. The program launched six years ago with Neighbor Up Brevard, Club Esteem and Love INC, but has since grown to include Family Promise of Brevard, Community of Hope, Eckerd Connects, New Life Mission, Habitat for Humanity of Brevard, Boys & Girls Club of Central Florida-Cocoa Branch and the Women’s Center of Brevard.
Volunteers not only help to set up and run the shop, but they also offer gift wrapping.
“We always need people who have a heart for the people we serve,” Willard-Williford said.
Each gift is in reality two gifts in one. The first is the physical present the child receives, the second is the gift of joy the parent enjoys in being able to purchase gifts for their loved ones.