Crossroads In Old Town Offering Free Shopping Spree 

Local families in need are being treated to a holiday shopping spree thanks to the folks at Crossroads Ministries in Old Town.It’s called the “Christmas Giveaway.” For the second straight year, volunteers at Crossroads are partnering with Toys for Tots, local businesses, the University of Maine, and local schools to help make Christmas a little merrier for some local families in need.Mark Ryder is a volunteer at Crossroads and coordinates this event. “It takes a year to put this together,” says Ryder. “We start immediately after Christmas vacation and just as soon as the new year starts, we get together and talk about how things go and how they could go better next year.”After filling out an application, each family is given 20 minutes to shop and choose the toys they think their children will like. You get to pick out two toys per child and they also get stocking stuffers, a hat and a pair of gloves.Keith Whitmore is the manager at Crossroads as says his clients seem to like this approach better than the old way of just giving the families a bag full of toys. “They actually get to pick out something they want to give their child and thats the big advantage for us, for them not feeling like it’s a handout.”The folks who pass through here, like Amanda Spencer and her son Braden, say they’re grateful for the generosity. “I thought it was a really awesome experience because Christmas is hard and I’ve noticed a lot of the prices in stores have gone up and it helps a lot,” Spencer says. “It’s really nice that people donated all this stuff and really awesome that we got the opportunity to do it.”The smiles of the kids faces makes all the hard work worth it. “Well thats the best part you know,” says Ryder. “Just like that small kid that we just had through here, absolutely just the toys and playing with them. that just means that Christmas morning when they wake up that is what this is all about.”The program runs through Christmas eve, or until they run out of toys or kids who need them. More than 400 kids have already signed up for the Christmas giveaway. For more information you can call Crossroads at 817-6025.