Christmas Store seeks new home

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Sally McCarthy holds up a sweater from the Pulaski County Christmas Store Teen Clothing Room. (Danielle Reid/Patriot Publishing)


Patriot Publishing


Although tradition has us celebrating Christmas in December, some of Santa’s Elves work year-round to ensure that the children of Pulaski County have a reason to celebrate.

The nine board members and numerous volunteers of the Pulaski County Christmas Store, a local 501-c3 non-profit organization, are concerned that if they cannot find a permanent home for the store, they may not be operational for this year’s upcoming Christmas season.  In 2023, they served close to 540 children.  This includes children in school up to the age of 18.

“We are very grateful to Pulaski County for allowing us to use the former Dublin Middle School as our warehouse and distribution center,” said Sally McCarthy, Board Chair and a long-standing board member. “But we need a more permanent location where we can serve Pulaski County families during the year if a need arises; as well as providing items to make the children’s Christmas merry and bright.”

The organization has had seven locations throughout the 20 years they have been serving families in Pulaski County.  The ultimate goal is to have the use of a 5,000 to 6,000 square foot climate controlled building, located in Pulaski County, on one floor, with heat, air-conditioning, and running water; ideally with divided rooms like the school, and security.

Board member Sybil Atkinson commented, “Pulaski County has been gracious to allow us to use the school building.  It is an upgrade from where we started out years ago in a warehouse, with one lightbulb hanging from the ceiling.”

However, trying to function this year in the school was difficult for the volunteers as well as the parents who came to find Christmas gifts for their children.  Because the building is older and designated for a different use in 2024, there were no amenities available such as heat, running water or restrooms.

Dedicated board members and volunteers endured extremely cold conditions for hours at a time to make sure every child they served did not feel left behind at Christmas.  It is a worthwhile community project that they all believe in.  The volunteers said they managed to forge through this year because of the importance of the mission.

Board member Todd Biers chuckled as he explained, “It was so cold, that even when we bundled up, we still needed nose-warmers!  And, if you tried to warm up your work room with a portable heater, many times it would shut down the electric.”

“The conditions this year were more challenging than during the pandemic when we had to wear masks, gloves and keep six-feet away from everyone,” commented McCarthy.  Even so, the Christmas Store volunteers managed to serve the community through all the years of COVID.

Even through this year’s harsh working conditions, the Christmas Store volunteers would strive to provide a pleasant shopping experience for the parents with cheery Christmas decorations, lights and Christmas music.

There is a process to participate and it includes an application, a confidential and private intake interview, possible recommendations from social services, the school guidance counselor, civic organizations, churches or other government entity.  The Christmas Store staff strives to ensure privacy of the parents.

When the parents come to “shop” they can choose a set of new clothes, age appropriate books and a toothbrush and toothpaste for each child for free.  They are then given 100 points per child to use to “purchase” gifts for their child.  No money is exchanged for them to acquire the gifts. Each item is assigned points and the parents can use a portion of their 100 points to purchase the item.  A volunteer shopping hostess will accompany them to direct them to special items they may be looking for, and to help carry their items in a cart.

Parents often comment that they are overwhelmed with the many choices and orderly arrangement of the Christmas Store. The items are well organized in individual rooms according to the type of item, age of the child, etc.  For instance, the toy room contains hundreds of items such as sports equipment, dolls, games, puzzles, toy trucks, cars and train sets.  The book room is arranged by topic, age-appropriate for the reader,  and according to reading level.

Additionally, there is a room focusing on infants and children, one for teens including bedding which has been a very popular item, and one for teen clothing.  There is a coat room where all ages and sizes can find seasonal outerware.

“Many organizations and volunteers make the Pulaski Country Christmas Store a reality,” said McCarthy.  “It is truly a community project where we make it possible for parents to do one-stop shopping for their children.  Other agencies may provide toys or only serve certain age groups.  The Christmas Store is more than just toys at Christmas time – and we are unique because there are no paid staff members and all donations stay local.”

The Christmas Store volunteers are normally active year-round, purchasing, collecting, organizing, tagging and warehousing items for the Christmas season.  However, this year might be different if they cannot locate an adequate building.  They missed the after-Christmas-sales because they were not sure they would have a building to store the items.  If a building is not located and the Christmas Store is no more, hundreds of children in Pulaski County may have a less-than merry Christmas in 2024.

If someone has a building located in Pulaski County that might meet the Christmas Store’s criteria, the Board Members would be grateful if you would contact them through their email, website or Facebook.

Please visit the Pulaski County Christmas Store, Inc. on Facebook or their website:

To donate, volunteer or request help, email: or by mail at: Pulaski Christmas Store, P.O. Box 2227, Pulaski, VA 24301