At this very special Christmas store, no money is accepted — just goodwill and cheer

(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)
Updated: Dec. 21, 2018 at 9:55 PM CST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - When you’re struggling to make ends meet, Christmas shopping can be nerve-racking. Especially when there are little ones on your list.

But an annual pop-up shop at the Institute for Human Services is helping take some of the stress out of holidays.

Inside a garage usually packed tight with cars, shoppers like Theresa Togia spent Friday morning picking out presents for her family.

“I have my husband and four kids,” she said.

The young mother told HNN her family has been homeless since July. And after months of sleeping in the shelter, they’re on the verge of moving into a place of their own.

She says this Christmas shopping spree ensures their budget stays in check.

“If I can get toys for them here, I can save up. No need to shop for them again,” said Togia.

Altogether, more than 300 people were invited to attended the IHS 14th annual pop-up shop.

Each shopper can choose a present for someone in their family and have it wrapped. All of it is free.

Shelter spokesman Kimo Carvalho says it’s a way to reward people who’ve made the choice to end their homelessness.

“It’s the holidays. We want it to feel like the holidays and I think that this is really part of our services where we normalize people’s lives in such a way where they don’t feel like their homeless," he said.

With something for everyone, Togia can now breathe a sigh of relief.

“I can’t say my kids are going to go without anything this Christmas. They have a whole bunch,” she said.

And perhaps the best part: She doesn’t even have to worry about gift wrap.

“They’re wrapping it for me! Christmas colors, too," she said.

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