Knoxville (WVLT) - Christmas can be expensive and coming up with the extra money can be very difficult, especially for those with no or very limited incomes.
That's why for the past 10 years volunteer ministries has set up their holiday store to help people shop without ever giving a penny, only their time.
This first Friday in December may not be as popular as Black Friday, but it's certainly just as important to those standing in line here at Volunteer Ministries Holiday Store.
"She is five going on six and loves Barbies," Sherry Moore is shopping for her children and grand-children.
Without the store she says there wouldn't be very many gifts to go around.
"It's helped me a whole lot, saved me a lot of money too," Moore says.
Donations are key, but it's the way the store operates that makes it possible for hundreds to give something to their special someone.
"People giving you special gifts to give to someone for just a little bit of work, you can't beat it," says Will Miller.
There is no money required. Shoppers purchase everything based on a point system. Anyone who wants can come and over the course of three weeks can purchase up to 350 points worth of merchandise. Then they check out and grab their job assignment, there are many to choose from, for example you can spend two hours raking or 4 hours stuffing envelopes and that can get you a back pack that is stuffed with school supplies.
"The folks who come in here to shop are earning the ability to make these purchases and so it's empowering their lives," says Bruce Spangler, VMC Chief Operating Officer.
The power of that generosity can be found around every corner.
"I was the first shopper to ever come in," ten years later Kay England's now the store manager.
"It feels good," she says.
Hope for her customers, and a reminder to herself, of a reason to celebrate this holiday season.
"I say you never have Christmas until you fill it in your heart," Kay says.
The holiday store doesn't close until December 22nd, so they need many more new items donated.
You can drop off things at the holiday store, volunteer ministries, or at one of the many drop off boxes across Knoxville.
More about Volunteer Ministries Holiday Store:
VMC needs new merchandise in it's original packaging, please don't gift wrap
They need all sorts of things, clothes, especially for infants, toys, home goods, small appliances. A complete list is on the vmc webpage, www.vmcknox.org.
The store is open most days from 9:30 a.m. till noon.
If you want to give you can find the drop off locations and phone numbers on the website.
If you want to shop, just stop by, or call 524-3926