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Thrift store helps bring Christmas spirit to those in need

De Pere Christian Outreach hosted their fourth annual Christmas store
Posted at 12:30 AM, Dec 13, 2022

DE PERE — As we get further into the holiday shopping season, many parents are looking to finish off Christmas lists and purchase items in time to get them under the tree.

For some families, the season can be especially tough due to limited resources. The De Pere Christian Outreach store recently helped hundreds of children and adults who have fallen on hard times get in on the holiday spirit.

"The families that are there shopping are families that have been identified by the social workers in East De Pere, West De Pere and also at Syble Hopp. So we have worked with these families for many many many years," said Michelle Dahlke.

Dahlke is one of those social workers who also doubled as a volunteer for the event. She says that she's seen the event continue to change in its fourth year.

"Every year it just grows and grows. As the needs get higher in the community, you know just the bigger need in the community than we have been able to provide for," said Dahlke

Dahlke says this year they served about 485 children and around 280 adults. She says that being able to see the excitement on the faces of family members shows how much giving back means to them around the holidays.

"Families get carts and carts full of items that they walk out with and they're proud because they were there to shop for those items, weren't given those items," said Dahlke.

Christine Whelan is a professor of consumer science at U.W. Madison. She says that thrift stores like the De Pere Christian Outreach store are becoming more popular for shopping at the holidays.

"Inflation is really hitting families hard this year, so for those of us who are trying to put gifts under the tree for multiple children the idea of being thrifty is more important than ever," said Whelan.

With interest rates rising, Whelan has noted a trend of buying Christmas gifts and paying them off later.

"That is one trend that's really concerning. It's looking like an almost two-fold increase in the number of folks who are taking advantage of those buy now, pay later programs," said Whelan.