Historic Lapeer’s Holiday Depot is an organization with one very clear, very important mission: no child in Lapeer will be without gifts for the holidays.
Holiday Depot looks very much like any other store. Rows of new, colorful toys, clothes and books line the rows in crisp packaging. Nothing about the place indicates that these gifts are obtained through anything other than traditional means. Nothing about them screams “used” or “damaged” the way some similar resources for those in need might. In fact, director Debbie Marquardt says they only accept new, unopened goods.
“These families are often buying thrift all year. We feel that for Christmas, for that one day, they should get brand new items,” says Marquardt.
For those who have struggled financially, or are struggling still, the quiet dignity of that means more than words can convey. When you are always looking for items that are used, damaged or outdated because that’s how you can afford them, the privilege of just having something fresh, unopened and new is a special sort of gift in and of itself. Nothing about the gifts the parents get there communicates that their child is having a different holiday experience than any other child. And for struggling families, that can be a miracle.
And it’s a miracle made possible by this community every single year.
“We serve about 400 families each year, and approximately 1,700 kids,” says Marquardt.
That kind of giving doesn’t come without massive effort on the part of others. Marquardt says she spends an average of 30 hours a week working on the Holiday Depot, but stresses it’s not just her making this happen, but rather a huge collaborative effort on the part of legions of volunteers—each doing some part to make sure there are gifts for every child in need. Whether that be volunteering at the shop, helping with toy collecting, coordinating things, adopting a family or just helping to get the message out to both those in need and those in a position to help. It’s a herculean task to make this sort of holiday magic, but every year, they get it done.
Ways to help are numerous:
Adopt a family.
Donate a new, unwrapped toy.
Place a collection barrel in your business.
Put up a giving tree.
Hold a personal care item drive.
Volunteer to help.
All donations stay right here in Lapeer County, helping our kids and our neighbors.
In addition to helping with gifts, Holiday Depot makes sure each family has access to food and personal care items such as toothpaste, soap, diapers, paper products, laundry supplies and more. Having enough of these personal care items available is an area where they especially have need at this time, and donations would be greatly appreciated.
If you or a loved one in Lapeer County is struggling and would benefit from the Holiday Depot, they are currently accepting applications. Low income residents can apply by coming to the Holiday Depot with a valid driver’s license or ID, birth certificates or Social Security cards for all children in the household, along with proof of income for the past 30 days. Please bring a list of gifts for your children with you when you come to apply. Walk in times are from 10 a.m. to noon on Nov. 7, 14, 21 and Dec. 5 and 12.
Marquardt stresses there in no shame in needing help for the holidays. “So many families are struggling this year because of COVID-19,” says Marquardt, “ and some, you know, work very hard and still don’t have enough extra for things like gifts. They are just putting food on the table and paying bills and can’t afford to do more.”
She says what we hear echoed so often among the people we hear working to better the community; “in Lapeer we take care of each other.” And she’s right. For all our differences and struggles, we are a community that looks out for one another. In all kinds of ways, we make sure those around us are going to be okay. And if doing that means pulling off a holiday miracle for 400 families each year, then Lapeer and the Holiday Depot will be here to do just that.
The Holiday Depot is located at 110 Park Street in Historic Lapeer. To learn more, follow them on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/HolidayDepotofLapeerCounty