Broken Arrow Neighbors’ Gift Gallery a Christmas ‘rescue’ for families in need

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Posted: Wednesday, December 18, 2013 12:00 am | By NOUR HABIB World Staff Writer |

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BROKEN ARROW, OK —- Holly Chiarello wasn’t sure how her family was going to celebrate Christmas this year.

Chiarello’s husband was laid off from his job at an apartment complex the day before Thanksgiving.

“Everything depended on his income,” said the stay-at-home mother of two.

But the couple did not tell their children, who are 8 and 6.

“How can you tell them that we’re struggling?” she said.

Thankfully, she heard about Broken Arrow Neighbors’ Gift Gallery, which the nonprofit organization held Tuesday night at St. Benedict Catholic Church.

Families who signed up from November through mid-December were able to come to the gallery and “shop” for free gifts for their children.

The gifts — all new — were divided by age group and gender. A room holding gifts for young boys included toy cars and balls. The room for tween girls included fashion jewelry and lotion. Bikes, board games and books also filled the rooms.

Kim Goddard, executive director of Broken Arrow Neighbors, said the organization began holding the Gift Gallery about 13 years ago. Before that, families used to fill out wish lists for what they’d like for their children.

“But I wanted families to be more engaged,” Goddard said.

This year, the parents of about 270 children were able to shop for gifts. Some were also able to get a Christmas tree, provided through donations to the Broken Arrow Historical Society.

Goddard said that though her organization is focused on providing basic needs to families, she believes that being able to offer this event makes the community stronger.

“I’m hugely grateful to the community for the support,” she said, “because I don’t have a line item in my budget for this.”

About 25 Broken Arrow Neighbors volunteers, as well as students from All Saints Catholic School, helped parents shop Tuesday.

Julie Pittman has been volunteering at the event for five years. “It’s part of my Christmas, coming here,” she said.

Pittman said she’s met people who came to the event for assistance in previous years and now come to volunteer to help others.

“It’s a wonderful service,” she said.

Chiarello, who got gifts for her children as well as a Christmas tree, called the service “a great rescue.”

“I’ve never been in this situation before,” she said.

Her husband found a job last week, but he won’t get his first paycheck until after Christmas.

“We prayed a lot,” Chiarello said. “God closes one door but opens another.”


Nour Habib 918-581-8369