Gahanna-Jefferson Public Schools families who need assistance to buy toys for their children can receive help through the Gahanna Gift Shop, a one-day Christmas store that will be open from 9 a.m. to noon Dec. 14 at three locations.
Joel Trainer, lead pastor of Three Creeks Church, 370 Goshen Lane in Gahanna, said the premise of the project is that churches and organizations donate gifts and "stores" are set up in schools for families in need.
He said each gift would cost $2.
"We give all of the money back to the schools we're hosting the store in," he said. "We offer free childcare, free snacks, free gift wrapping and free pictures with Santa. We also offer to pray with anyone who would like prayer."
Families may register at gahannagiftshop.com to shop or to volunteer.
If people want to donate gifts, Trainer said, they should deliver new, unwrapped gifts valued between $15 and $30 to either the PNC Bank, 191 Granville St., or Union Bank Co., 461 Beecher Road.
He said seven churches and multiple community organizations are partnering to make the event happen.
"This is the third year this is being offered," Trainer said. "In our first year, we had one location. Last year, we had two. This year, we have three and many more partners involved."
Participating churches include Three Creeks Church, Infinite Church, Discovery Church, New Life Church, Mifflin Presbyterian Church, St. Luke Lutheran Church and Eastside Community Church.
Other community partners include the fire departments of Mifflin and Jefferson townships, Gahanna Residents In Need, Neighborhood Bridges, Gahanna schools, Gahanna Moms Network, PNC Bank, Union Bank and Olde Gahanna Sanctuary.
Trainer said 75 families participated in 2017 and that increased to 160 families in 2018.
"(We're) hoping for 2,000 gifts, 300 volunteers and 500 families this year," he said.
He said Three Creeks Church alone hosted the store in 2017 and New Life Church joined Three Creeks in 2018.
The three Gahanna Gift Shop locations this year include Goshen Lane Elementary School, 370 Goshen Lane; Royal Manor Elementary School, 299 Empire Drive; and Gahanna Middle School West, 350 Stylger Road. Gifts for children ages 13-18 are being sold at the Middle School West location only.
Gahanna-Jefferson Public Schools Superintendent Steve Barrett said Trainer had asked the district to open three of the schools on a Saturday in December to host the "Gahanna Gift Shop" for community members in need.
"We are honored to offer our facilities to Joel and the Gahanna Ministerial Association organizing this effort," he said. "The Gahanna Gift Shop affords an inexpensive option for our families in need to provide toys for their children who, in turn, are students in our school district."
Barrett said the district is extremely grateful for partnerships with community organizations, such as the Gahanna Ministerial Association, that work tirelessly to meet the needs of Gahanna-Jefferson students.
He said a few school groups, such as the Lincoln High School "S" Club, have been collecting new toys to donate to the Gahanna Gift Shop.
"All of the proceeds from the event will go back to Goshen Lane Elementary, Royal Manor Elementary and Gahanna Middle School West that are hosting the Gahanna Gift Shop this year," Barrett said. "The principals of these schools will put the money to good use for our students as situations arise throughout the year."