Outdoor market at St. Charles Lwanga Parish stocked with donated toys, clothes and games, helping lift families' spirits
DETROIT — Parents who needed a little extra help in making this Christmas special for their children got assistance Dec. 17 from the Holy Family Christmas Store at St. Charles Lwanga Parish in Detroit.
For a $5 entry fee, parents walked through the holiday bazaar set up in the parking lot outside St. Cecilia Gym on the grounds of St. Charles Lwanga Parish, browsing through toys, board games, sporting equipment and clothes to find special gifts they could wrap themselves and give to their children.
Fr. Marko Djonovic, moderator of the Family of Parishes that includes St. Charles Lwanga, Christ the King, St. Suzanne/Our Lady Gate of Heaven, St. Peter Claver and St. Moses the Black parishes, began the Holy Family Christmas Store in 2018 at Our Lady of the Rosary Parish as a way for parents to be able to provide for their children.
“Everyone’s life circumstances are unique; that is why we can’t judge,” Fr. Djonovic, who primarily serves at St. Moses the Black, told Detroit Catholic. “Still, people experiencing poverty can often fall into a cycle of dependency and despair. So, a simple adjustment in how we do charity could encourage parents that they can be providers. We want our charity to carry a gentle message to those we serve that there is hope for them to rise above their current circumstances. We all need hope and encouragement, especially during Christmas.”
Patrons pulled into the St. Cecilia Gym parking lot and walked into a tent that provided much-need shelter from the cold December elements.
Trina Martell, a St. Moses the Black parishioner, organized the donations and volunteers at the one-day Christmas store, pairing each guest with a shopping assistant to help them select items for their children.
“The personal shopper is a warm and friendly face for the guest who comes in. They help carry their packages and spread some Christmas cheer,” Martell said.
Volunteers from city and suburban parishes worked for weeks to make the Christmas store a success, giving their time, talent and treasure to ensure families got what they needed for the Christmas season. Kali Wallace, a volunteer from the youth group at Our Lady of La Salette Parish in Berkley, was a personal shopper at the Christmas market.
“I’m shopping with the parents, picking out clothes and toys, helping parents figure out the best presents to give their children,” Wallace said. “I’m talking to them, getting to know them, helping them to give their kids a good Christmas.”
It was the second time Wallace has volunteered at the Holy Family Christmas market, previously doing so before the pandemic, when the market was at Our Lady of the Rosary Parish.
“It feels good to be back, getting in the Christmas spirit,” Wallace said. “I’m happy to be back helping out in person.”
Christian service Christmas