Christmas store sponsored by Grand Rapids homeless shelters in dire need of donations

GRAND RAPIDS, MI — The annual Heartside Community Christmas Store, which provides low-cost gifts to those in need, only has 15% of the necessary items for the Dec. 14 event.

The Christmas store, sponsored by Dégagé Ministries and Mel Trotter Ministries in Grand Rapids, is asking for donations of unwrapped items to fill the needs of the event. Donations may be made in person, online or by giving cash donations.

Kacey Spencer, Dégagé Ministries fund development and event manager, said some of the most needed items are small kitchen appliances, which are sold for $5 at the store.

“Some of the most popular items are the small appliances like toasters, crockpots, coffee pots,” she said. “Those are very popular and if there are any left over, we give them to women transitioning into housing too.”

In-person donations may be dropped off through Dec. 9 at Degagé Ministries at 139 Sheldon Blvd. Those wishing to donate online can purchase items for the store from Degage’s Amazon wish list, which includes things like hair products, water bottles, books, small appliances and bedding.

To donate money, deliver either cash or check to Dégagé or use the online donation feature on Dégagé’s website at

Due to the current challenging economic climate, ministry staff are expecting more shoppers than normal at the Christmas store.

“Right now, just to give an example, we have over 100 women in shelter and that is way above our average of 60,” Spencer said. “We’re seeing a spike in people we’re serving and that alone tells me there’s going to be more need at the store.”

Along with donations, the Community Christmas Store is in need of volunteers to help set up, gift-wrap purchases and assist with shopping. Spencer said the greatest need is for personal shoppers, who assist each customer choose items during their appointment window. Volunteers are also needed to tear down the shop from 6 pm to 8 pm Dec. 14

Mel Trotter Ministries is organizing volunteers, so sign-ups are available at the Mel Trotter website,

The Community Christmas Store allows Heartside neighbors to purchase new gifts for family and friends at heavily discounted prices. Many of the customers who visit the store are homeless or have a fixed or low income. Customers pick out their own items, which are then giftwrapped. The event is geared toward providing dignity to those unable to afford gifts at retail stores for the holidays.

“I just want people to know how special it is to have a place you can shop with dignity and buy brand new items and be able to afford them,” Spencer said of the event. “The people we’re serving have a lot of trauma around being homeless, and this sparks a little joy in their lives. That’s a big deal for someone who is experiencing homelessness. It’s a beautiful thing and everybody should be able to have that.”

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