Mathews Christmas Store a dream come true for many residents

by Quinton Sheppard - Posted on Dec 19, 2012 - 01:19 PM

Photo: It is the many volunteers that help make the annual Mathews Christmas Store possible. Some working Friday morning were, from left, William Anne Pamplin, Reed Lawson, Jack Cranford, Phyllis Hudgins, store coordinator Peggy Hudgins, Kay Strigle, Art Miller, Tom Hunley and Cheryl Lamport. Photo by Quinton Sheppard

It is the many volunteers that help make the annual Mathews Christmas Store possible. Some working Friday morning were, from left, William Anne Pamplin, Reed Lawson, Jack Cranford, Phyllis Hudgins, store coordinator Peggy Hudgins, Kay Strigle, Art Miller, Tom Hunley and Cheryl Lamport. Photo by Quinton Sheppard

Photo: Shopping for various items at the Mathews Christmas Store Friday morning were Audrey Mowrar, left, and Kendra Parsons. Last year’s store had nearly 500 participants. Photo by Quinton Sheppard

Shopping for various items at the Mathews Christmas Store Friday morning were Audrey Mowrar, left, and Kendra Parsons. Last year’s store had nearly 500 participants. Photo by Quinton Sheppard

It all started in a small room where residents in need could come pick up some used clothing for the holidays. Twenty-five years later, the Mathews Christmas Store has turned into a dream come true for many residents unable to purchase gifts this season.

"We think we are going to at least equal last year," said Peggy Hudgins, longtime coordinator of the two-day event, which took place at the Kingston Parish House Friday and Saturday. The store, sponsored each year by the Mathews Department of Social Services, served 485 people in 2011.

Hudgins said she receives donations from individuals and businesses throughout the year and also applies for grants to purchase the items that are put into the store. "I shop all year," she said, placing the items for safe keeping in the upstairs of the social services building.

Those who are eligible to shop at the store receive 30 points per person in their family that they are shopping for. Hudgins and her 75-plus volunteers then mark each item with a certain number of points. "There’s no money involved," Hudgins said.

The store has just about everything in it and Hudgins said that the household items are some of the most popular, especially with the ladies who normally would not have the money to buy them.