The business of holidays can be stressful; for those recovering from chronic stress and trauma, the holidays can seem insurmountable. So each December, YWCA Dayton transforms an otherwise ordinary meeting room into a bevy of festive goodness all with one mission in mind: healing through happiness.
“Experiencing the holidays while living in a shelter can be really stressful,” explains Tia Lurie, domestic violence shelter and operations manager. “Our Holiday Market helps to ease that stress by bringing a lot of joy to our service recipients, and our staff. Many of our service recipients arrive in shelter with very few belongings, so finding extra money for holiday gifts is often impossible. This helps to ease that burden.”
A dozen volunteers help sort donations, arrange the market for opening, and provide personal shopping assistance — complete with gift wrapping — for the 100+ women and children served by YW’s domestic violence shelter and housing programs. Thanks to the greater Dayton community, this year’s Market included more than 1,000 pounds of new home goods, clothing, books, toys, personal hygiene products, and more. Immediate favorites? Brand-new kids’ bicycles, fuzzy blankets, and stress-relief body wash.
“Our market is unique in that we provide a setup that makes it possible for our service recipients to shop for themselves and their children, providing them with the opportunity to make their own choices about what to give during the holiday season,” Lurie said. “Our community is so generous in donations and volunteering, it really makes for a festive and cheerful holiday season for us as staff as well.”
The Holiday Market is coordinated by Kelsi Martinez, volunteer coordinator, who is in her third year of holiday celebrations at YW.
“At a time when our clients and residents feel a desire to give to their children or grandchildren, but are not able to, we are able to take that burden away,” Martinez said. “I love knowing we — the community and YWCA — have done the best we can to set our women and children up to have the holiday they deserve. Gift-giving during the holidays can be such an intimate time, and because of that I will never be able to witness my favorite part of the Holiday Market, but I will be here after to see the children bouncing around our building showing off their new items!”
For more information on how to give all year long, visit www.ywcadayton.org/help.