"Community Christmas" helps ease burden on parents - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

"Community Christmas" helps ease burden on parents

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CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Parents got to shop for their kids Wednesday without the stress at the register. 

Saving money is difficult when you live paycheck to paycheck, and at Christmas time, many parents find themselves stuck in a position in which they have enough money to make ends meet, but not enough money to splurge on gifts.

"A lot of the families, they don't want a handout. They want to be able to go and shop for their kids, but they can't pay the prices that are in the store. But two dollars, they can pay two dollars and feel like they went shopping," said Susie Toliver. 

Toliver has organized this Community Christmas Program at the Carbondale Police Department for more than decade. She explained each gift only costs a couple bucks, so that 125 kids will have presents under the tree. 

Four of those children are grandchildren to Norma Lopez. She was thrilled knowing, on top of the gifts, she'd also be taking home a free coat for each child. 

"Every year they grow," said Lopez. 

Toliver says parents often tell her what a relief this shopping day is and walk out smiling holding the gifts. She says those smiles, make this Community Christmas worth all the effort. 

"That makes me feel good, it makes them feel good and makes the program work," said Toliver. 

To make it easier on the parents, volunteers from The View Church and Grace United Methodist also wrap each and every gift to send home to the children. 

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