DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – We are launching a brand new series on 2 News Today. It’s called “Tell Me Good News.”
We want to tell the stories you want to hear about all the good things happening in the Miami Valley.
For our first story, we’re introducing you to a retired teacher 2 News Today Anchor Lauren Wood met recently. She has made it her mission to get Christmas presents under the trees of students at one Dayton Public Schools elementary.
It’s called the Christmas Shop, and it’s helped struggling families make happy Christmas memories, including grandparents like Kimberly Harris.
Prior to the Christmas Shop, Harris said Christmas was a lot more challenging in her household.
“I would just make the best of it,” Harris said. “I would just do what I have to do. You make sacrifices. Just as long as they wake up with something under the tree.”
Harris said the Christmas Shop helped make the season easier for her family and many others.
“I was just overwhelmed,” Harris said. “I was happy because you never know what someone is going through. And with them being there to help you—for your children to wake up in the morning with something under the tree—I just found it fantastic.”
Harris has attended the Christmas Shop for families of Kiser Elementary for the past three years. It’s helped her make Christmas special for her 10-year-old grandson, including the year he received his favorite present: A brand new bicycle.
“He just came downstairs like, ‘Ooooh!’” Harris recalled. “You know… just overwhelmed. He really was.”
And that is exactly the reaction retired teacher Frances Gant was hoping for when she started the Christmas Shop. It all began after hearing heartbreaking stories from students coming back from Christmas break.
“They would say, ‘I didn’t get anything. Mom didn’t have enough money,’” Gant recalled. “And so I was like, well I’m going to try and be a help for these families.”
So Gant got to work.
“We got together a donation,” Gant said. “I shared it with the staff. And we asked them to bring donations. They did. I went around to all the community businesses and asked them to give us donations.”
Those donations turned into the Christmas Shop. Prior to the pandemic, Kiser parents could come in and pick out toys for their children. But last year and this year, the event is a drive-through format. It’s being held on December 10th at North Dayton Baptist Church… just down the street from Kiser Elementary. Serving Kiser families with kids three months old to 17 years old… they have one mission in mind:
“To give the children a sense of belonging,” Gant said. “To let the children know that someone loves them and cares. And to strengthen them and their family.”
It’s a mission that Harris says the Christmas Shop volunteers and donors excel at every year.
“They’re getting memories of waking up to something,” Harris said. “And to be with family. You know. That’s the greatest thing.”
The Christmas shop has some wonderful partners at Dayton Children’s Hospital and other local businesses… but because things have been so difficult for so many families, they are still looking for donations. There is an Amazon wish list you can order from here if you’d like to help out.
We also want YOU to tell US good news. Be sure to submit your good news stories here.