NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – A Christmas store opened Monday for a group of Nashvillians who can’t celebrate the holiday.
The Christmas Store at Centerstone provides a shopping experience for those who receive help at the for intellectual disabilities.
“A lot of the clients here have mental disorders such as schizophrenia or bi-polar condition,” said the store’s founder Phillip Pistole. “It limits their ability to hold down a job.”
The Christmas Store, located on Ninth Avenue North, launched 9 years ago and continues to grow.
Around 225 shoppers are expected between Monday and Friday, when the store closes.
“Their eyes open up when they come in and see everything they can,” said Pistole. “They don’t have dishes, they don’t have clothes, they don’t have coats.”
The store takes up much of Centerstone’s building. Hallways are filled with clothes, housewares, toys, books, televisions and furniture. There’s also a “Christmas department” with holiday decorations.
“Because they love Christmas as well,” said Pistole.
Volunteers and donations primarily come from members of Harpeth Hills Church of Christ and Willis Company.
Shortly after the doors opened Monday, dozens of people made their way through The Christmas Store choosing things for themselves as well as gifts for others.
“A lot of them can’t provide presents for their family or loved ones, so this gives them the opportunity to do that,” said Marissa Sweatt of Centerstone.
“A lot of our clients don’t have much. They may have a couple of pairs of pants, a couple of shirts, and by a couple I mean two or three,” she added.
Shoppers are given a plastic bag and are allowed to fill it with anything they need. They are also allowed to choose a large item such as furniture or a television.
Pistole said his eyes get teary when he sees some of their reactions.
“We had a blender sitting in the middle of the table, and the very first lady walked in the door. She looked at me, then at the blender, then at me. And she said, ‘Can I have that?’ I said, ‘Yes!’ and tears started coming down her face, and she said ‘I’ve never had a blender before and I’ve always wanted a blender,” Pistole remembered, adding, “We take too much for granted.”
He asks people to just “clean out their closet” and bring gently used items they no longer need to give to the clients.
Donations can be dropped off at the Centerstone’s location on Ninth Avenue. Pistole said they especially need donations of coats and toys.