Donations needed for Guadalupe Center’s Holiday Gift Shop

Guadalupe Center aims to provide presents to about 2,000 Immokalee children in 2021 – the most it’s ever served – through the nonprofit’s annual Holiday Gift Shop. 

Guadalupe Center holiday class photoThrough Dec. 10, Guadalupe Center is accepting new, unwrapped donations of age-appropriate toys, games, clothing, shoes and other gifts for infants through teenagers. 

“Because Guadalupe Center has expanded to create additional educational opportunities for students in Immokalee, we also need to grow our outreach programs, including the Holiday Gift Shop,” said Guadalupe Center President Dawn Montecalvo. “Thanks to generous supporters and local businesses, we have always reached our goal of making sure that all students attending Guadalupe Center, as well as their siblings, have a gift to unwrap on Christmas morning. We are hopeful the community will again step forward to brighten the holidays for families in Immokalee.” 

In Immokalee, 97% of children are classified as “economically needy.” After their parents pay for rent, food, utilities and other expenses, there often isn’t enough money left to buy Christmas gifts. 

“The pandemic has exacerbated financial challenges faced by low-income working families, and rising inflation is putting even more stress on the family budget,” said Robert Spano, vice president of programs at Guadalupe Center. “Every child should have a gift under the Christmas tree with their name on it, and the Holiday Gift Shop is our way of helping families create a memorable holiday season.”

Holiday Gift Suggestions

Age-appropriate gift suggestions include: 

  • Infants and toddlers (0-2 years): infant gyms and bouncers, rattles, baby dolls, stacking rings, light-up or musical toys, crib mobiles, bath toys 
  • Preschool-age children (3-5 years): building blocks, baby dolls, wireless headphones or earbuds, remote-controlled cars, popular children’s characters and superheroes, activity sets, Play-Doh 
  • School-age children (6-12 years): dolls, action figures, LEGO kits, wireless headphones or earbuds, musical instruments, sporting goods, popular children’s characters and superheroes, arts and crafts sets, riding toys, tablets, science lab kits 
  • Teenagers (13-18 years): gift cards, wireless headphones or earbuds, Roku Express boxes, Bluetooth speakers, Fitbits, cell phone accessories, tablets 

How to Donate Holiday Gifts

Unwrapped gifts can be dropped off through Dec. 10 at two locations in Collier County: Guadalupe Resale Shop, 12980 Tamiami Trail North, Unit 10, in Naples; and Guadalupe Center, 509 Hope Circle in Immokalee. Additionally, monetary donations can be made securely online at GuadalupeCenter.org/donate.

For more information, please contact Haley Thalheimer, community outreach and donor relations coordinator, at HThalheimer@GuadalupeCenter.org or 239-657-7120. 

Guadalupe Resale Shop debuts seasonal holiday décor

seasonal holiday decor at guadalupe resale shopGuadalupe Resale Shop is celebrating the season by filling a section of its showroom with holiday décor.

Christmas décor includes festive tableware like plates, bowls, glasses and casserole dishes, as well as place settings, table centerpieces, shelf decorations, stuffed animals, bows, lights, angel statues, decorative pillows and even a few ugly sweaters.

“Every year, our volunteers help transform the showroom into a home for unique holiday treasures and gifts,” said Kat McNabb, store manager at Guadalupe Resale Shop. “Customers have been telling us that they don’t want the same holiday décor that their neighbors and friends bought at big box stores, and they’re finding one-of-a-kind decorations and table centerpieces here.”

McNabb also notes a trend among party-goers to bring food in a leave-behind casserole dish. When the party is over, a guest simply leaves the bowl or plate as a small gift. The party host is welcome to keep that dish or pay it forward at the next dinner party.

Proceeds from sales at Guadalupe Resale Shop support three educational programs at Guadalupe Center in Immokalee: the nationally accredited Early Childhood Education Program, After-school Tutoring & Summer Enrichment Program and college-preparatory Tutor Corps Program.

Located at 12980 Tamiami Trail North, Unit 10, in Naples, Guadalupe Resale Shop is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Mondays through Saturdays. Donations are accepted from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Mondays through Saturdays from a curbside drop-off behind the store.

Guadalupe Center, community partners brighten Christmas with gifts for thousands of Immokalee children

Christmas morning was both merry and bright for thousands of Immokalee children thanks to a little holiday spirit that began spreading back in October.

That’s when the elves behind Guadalupe Center’s annual Holiday Gift Shop began soliciting donations of new toys, games, clothing, stuffed animals, bicycles and other age-appropriate gifts for children. Almost like Christmas magic, gifts started flowing into a staging area at Guadalupe Center, piling high before a sleigh full of volunteers began sorting and arranging gifts by age and gender.

By mid-December, Guadalupe Center’s Performing Arts Hall had transformed into winter wonderland. The beautifully decorated Holiday Gift Shop opened its doors for five days to parents of children in the After-school Tutoring Program. Parents perused rows of gifts neatly arranged by age and gender to pick out the perfect presents for their sons and daughters. Employees from Publix, Oracle, Wells Fargo, Guadalupe Center and the Collier County Sheriff’s Office joined volunteers from area businesses, residential communities and civic groups to wrap presents in colorful, kid-friendly wrapping paper sure to put a smile on their faces come Christmas morning.

Those who have witnessed the program, which has operated for more than 20 years, have said Santa’s Workshop has nothing on Guadalupe Center’s Holiday Gift Shop!

The Holiday Gift Shop wasn’t born out of a desire to provide more gifts to children. Rather, it was to make sure no child went without one on Christmas Day. In Immokalee, the poverty rate is 43.4%, and many families struggle with day-to-day living expenses like housing, food, utilities and transportation. Money for Christmas gifts simply isn’t in the family budget.

Guadalupe Center selects families for the Holiday Gift Shop based on financial need, but the 927 children who received a gift through the annual program were not the only ones assisted in 2019. Guadalupe Center’s generous partners again stepped forward to help.

For more than a decade, Waterside Shops has provided a spectacular Christmas party for more than 150 second-graders in the After-school Tutoring Program. The party includes appearances by Santa and Mrs. Claus, elves, face painting, crafts and lunch. Tenants at Waterside Shops donated items so that each child can select a gift, and remaining items are brought to Immokalee to stock the Holiday Gift Shop.

The list of generous donors and community partners continues to grow each year. Since 2016, families from the Community School of Naples have adopted families in the Early Childhood Education Program, providing gifts and clothing for nearly 300 children. Community School students even accompany Santa Claus for the gift delivery.

The Latin American Motorcycle Association’s Holiday Toy Run, Miromar Outlets, PetSmart and a long list of additional businesses all contribute to this magical month of giving. Individuals also ask if they can help local families in need, and plenty of Immokalee residents still haven’t recovered from the impacts of Hurricane Irma, so they’ve quietly donated everything from food, clothing, household items, gifts and even holiday decorations.

Thanks to our community partners, we distributed holiday gifts to 1,993 children in 2019.

Each year, it is truly astounding to watch our community spring into action to help the children and families of this community. That indeed is the spirit of Christmas.