MARQUETTE - St. Vincent de Paul Stores in Marquette and Gwinn were transformed for one day to help needed families get ready for Christmas. The Christmas Basket Program takes all year to plan, but with help from volunteers it makes Christmas for needy families in the area just a little brighter.
Years ago Jenell McKee's family needed help during the holidays and received it from her local Salvation Army in Traverse City.
"I thought that they really helped people and then I decided it was time for us to give back," McKee said. "That's why I volunteer because I know what it is like, I've been there where they are."
Molly and Katie Morrison help families pick out Christmas gifts for their children Friday at St. Vincent de Paul during the Christmas Basket Program in Marquette. (Journal photo by Sylvia Stevens)
So, she and 74 other volunteers arrived Thursday morning at St. Vincent de Paul's Marquette location to help stock the shelves and fill food boxes before the families arrived.
"We had a surprise this morning; we came in and Toys for Tots came with two trucks full of toys," Manager Stephanie Bordeaux said. "We also get a lot of donations from the community which is an amazing help."
Families sign up to receive the donations and then go to the store hoping to fill their children's wish lists.
Even adults without children had a selection of items they could pick from to make their Christmas a little bit brighter.
"This year has been our biggest sale," Bordeaux said. "We have between Gwinn and Marquette 580 children we are going to help and 600 families, 430 of which are from Marquette."
Families also had a selection of clothes and shoes they could pick from. The store also was stocked with a selection of books and board games so children and parents could spend time having fun as a family.
After the families were done shopping they received a box filled with food for christmas. Families had a choice of turkey or chicken, then they were given stuffing, potatoes, cranberry sauce, cookies and much more.
"We want to make sure they can cook Christmas dinner for their families," Bordeaux said.
Sylvia Stevens can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 240.