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Vocapedia > Time > Christmas > Shopping, Commercialism




 Commercial Christmas


By Andy Singer, Politicalcartoons.com


19 November 2012
















the commercialization of Christmas        USA






materialism        UK






Christmas shopping        USA






Christmas > bill        UK        2013






The average Briton spent £2,200 on Christmas last year        UK    [2005]

http://money.guardian.co.uk/news_/story/0,,1978100,00.html - broken link





What is the meaning of Christmas?        UK        2012


As the big day approaches,

our own Polly Toynbee, an atheist,

goes head to head with vicar Giles Fraser

to discuss theology, heresy, Jesus and shopping






Christmas TV adverts        UK






Boxing day sale        UK        2013






business        UK







Cagle cartoons > Christmas credit crunch        USA        2009






poor Christmas trading        UK






Christmas sales





holiday sales        UK






bargains        UK






last-minute Christmas bargain        UK






Christmas shoppers        UK








Pope decries commercial glitter of Christmas        UK        December 2011


Pontiff's Christmas Eve address laments

that message of Christ's birth is obscured

by a celebration of consumerism






Online Christmas shopping        UK        2007



















Eric Allie



18 November 2010


















Richard Crowson

The Witchita Eagle, Kansas


7 December 2005


















The Guardian        p. 24        23 November 2005


















Jeff Parker

Florida Today




















Rob Rogers

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette



11 December 2010















In Season of Recession,

New Ways to Celebrate


December 26, 2008

The New York Times




No lamb this year; ham, at 89 cents a pound, was a better deal. There were gifts, yes, but fewer than usual, and only for the children. Maybe clothes this time around instead of a bag of toys. Somehow, the Long Island chill would have to be made as alluring a holiday destination as the isles of the Caribbean.

It is unsurprising, perhaps, that this is the Christmas of cutbacks, what with neighbors facing foreclosures, relatives being laid off and the endless chatter of a recession like no other. Nearly everyone in New York City, it seemed — from shoppers in central Brooklyn to churchgoers in the Bronx, people eating (and volunteering) at a Harlem soup kitchen and those heading out of town from Penn Station — had something they were doing without.

“It doesn’t feel like Christmas,” said Christine Enniss, who planned to pare her holiday spread to the essentials: green salad, roast chicken and, maybe, potato salad.

But as each family tried to make merry amid the misery, what stayed and went was revealing. Sharon Parker, whose husband recently lost his job as a mechanic, held Christmas dinner for her immediate family of five, rather than playing host to the more than a dozen cousins and friends she usually has over. Susan Strande, an art teacher who lives in the East Village, did her own baking rather than buying fancy tarts and pies. O’Neil Hutchinson, an engineering consultant, visited family in England several weeks ago to avoid the more expensive holiday fares.

Many tried to avoid sacrificing quantity by scaling back on quality. At Sherry-Lehmann Wine and Spirits on Park Avenue near 59th Street, sales of Nicolas Feuillatte Brut Champagne, at $27.95 a bottle, more than doubled, to 160 cases this month, from last December. But “all the higher-end stuff is more likely to stay on the shelves,” said Chris Adams, a partner in the store.

Mr. Adams, for his part, went to Saks Fifth Avenue on Christmas Eve to shop for a last-minute gift for his wife, as he always does. But he stayed away from the pricey perfumes, veering instead to the makeup counter to buy creams she might need and would normally pick up for herself.

Of course, this cutback Christmas can also be seen as the season of the sales. Some took advantage of bargain trips to Las Vegas resorts; others filled shopping bags with merchandise at half price. “Everything was really cheap,” said one woman, a bit defensively, as she boarded a train to see family in New Jersey, laden with Bloomingdale’s bags that were teeming with red-wrapped gifts.

For the Lombardo family, Christmas Eve has always been about the Feast of the Seven Fishes, a traditional Italian banquet.

But with business at the family’s pizzeria in Harrison, N.Y., pinched, the Lombardos scaled back. Each of the 18 adults and seven grandchildren was served the seven courses, but the grownups survived on one lobster tail instead of two. The crowd shared a few dozen clams on the half shell instead of 10 dozen or more, the shrimp cocktails were more modest, the linguini had fewer blue crabs, and there was a bit less scungilli. There were fewer Alaskan king crab legs, too.

“We’re not getting a lot of businessmen taking their clients to lunch,” Sofia Lombardo, a daughter of one of the founders, said of her family’s restaurant, Sofia’s Pizzeria. “They just have slices instead of chicken parmesan.”

The tug of tough times also led the Lombardos to trim their gift-giving. Last year, the adults traded “secret Santa” gifts worth about $75 each. This year, they decided to limit each gift to $30.

Ms. Lombardo’s parents and one of her brothers did away with swapping gifts entirely. “My family always went to the nines,” she said. “Is it weird not opening gifts on Christmas Day? Yes. But the catering business is not where it’s been in the last few years.”

Even with less, there were countless attempts to make Christmas as happy as it has always been. Parents, in particular, took pains to give their children an abundance of gifts, even while watching the price tag.

Last year, Veronica Tyms bought 30 presents for cousins, in-laws, friends and their children. This year, she chopped her list in half and fully expected the would-be recipients to do the same. “We didn’t have to talk about it,” said Ms. Tyms’s friend Margaret Gregory, who joined her this week on a bargain-hunting trip to the Target store in the Atlantic Terminal Mall in Brooklyn. “People just understood.”

Both women, however, still showered their children with presents. Ms. Gregory ticked off the list for her 18-year-old daughter: “clothes, movies, perfume, makeup.” Ms. Tyms bought gifts for her 8-year-old son and more than a dozen other children of friends and relatives.

“My son still believes in Santa Claus,” she said. “I’m not ready to change that yet.”

Ed Chin of Greenwich, Conn., who landed at job at China Merchants Bank in September after being out of work for six months, skipped the usual trip to North Carolina to visit his in-laws and to golf, and he canceled his family’s traditional Champagne brunch. Rather than expensive gifts for each of their four children, ages 9 to 14, Mr. Chin and his wife, Julie, bought an Xbox video game console for them to share.

“Even people in Greenwich have to tighten up,” Ms. Chin said of her wealthy hometown. “This is not the time to spend money on this kind of stuff.”

Dominic Giangrasso, who runs the computer systems at ConEdison Solutions, hooked up a Web camera to his flat-panel television so that his pregnant daughter, who lives in Massachusetts, could watch Christmas dinner at his home in Westchester County rather than spend money on traveling there.

The Rev. Jos Kandathikudy, the priest at St. Thomas Syro Malabar Catholic Church in the Bronx, said that last year he walked from the rectory through the neighborhood to admire the fanciful decorations. This year, he said, the streets were mostly dark.

“Businesses and residences both; I think people just want to and need to save money — everything is reduced,” he said. “But this is not the meaning of Christmas. It is not about lights and presents.”

Father Kandathikudy was one of many ministers to preach about how the tough economic times could help people focus on the religious meaning of Christmas.

One parishioner at the Church of the Ascension on West 107th Street simply handed over $500 to the Rev. John Duffell last week, saying only that someone needed it more than he did.

And at the Church of Saint Raymond on Castle Hill Avenue in the Bronx, one altar girl had trimmed her wish list.

“My daughter understood that things were difficult this year,” said Maria Gonzalez, 40, as she walked into the noon Mass at the church, beaming as her daughter, Jessica Garcia, led the processional. “She loves music and has worked so hard to practice, so all she wanted was a keyboard. She wants to play music to serve God, and I want to help her in that.”

Ralph Blumenthal and Kareem Fahim contributed reporting.

In Season of Recession, New Ways to Celebrate,






Well, that's Christmas out of the way.

Time now for some serious shopping


December 27, 2006

The Times

Sam Coates and Marcus Leroux


Busiest week is just beginning

Luxury goods fuelling the trend


It took just five hours before the magic of Christmas Day had worn off and British shoppers had once again embraced their “selfish gene”.

Yesterday Britons engaged in the biggest hunt for presents for themselves, besieging high streets and shopping centres across the country at the start of a three-week, £5.2 billion spending bonanza.

They are expected to spend even more money after Christmas than before, with the largest stores predicting that their busiest days of the year would come between now and January.

With some stores starting their online sales on Christmas Day, and others offering discounts of up to 75 per cent, this year looks likely to be one of the best for consumers for several years.

Selfridges in Oxford Street, Central London, said that record numbers came through the doors yesterday, with 2,000 people queueing from 5am. The Trafford Centre in Manchester was visited by an estimated 130,000 bargain-hunters, 10,000 up on last year’s high.

Shoppers have already defied predictions of a lacklustre Christmas after two rises in interest rates, consumer debt and sharp rises in energy bills.

John Lewis said that Christmas sales hit £94.3 million, an all-time high, while the Bullring shopping centre in Birmingham said that Christmas sales had grown 0.6 per cent, with average spending increasing by 10 per cent.

Heavy discounting of luxury items is fuelling the trend — yesterday the first item bought at Selfridges in Birmingham was a Chloé Betty bag, reduced from £939 to £469. At the chain’s store in Oxford Street, managers opened half an hour early to enable the hordes to get to the discounted Gucci and Louis Vuitton bags.

Victoria Mackey, who left Wales at 5am to reach Sel- fridges in Oxford Street, said: “We came last year and I saved more than £800 on handbags and shoes on the regular price. I’m hoping to get some good bargains again.”

Sally Goodwood, 18, a fashion student from Ilford, Essex, said that the Oxford Street sales were “worth every single elbow in the rib”. She said: “I got a pair of Bertie boots reduced from £195 to £91 and a pair of Diesel jeans I have been debating buying for ages reduced from £100 to £60.”

Tom Denison, a psychologist from SPSL, the retail analysts, said that, despite the moaning from traditionalists about the commercialisation of Boxing Day, the post-Christmas sales frenzy was driven by consumers buying for themselves with increased enthusiasm.

“The fact that more retailers are opening on Boxing Day means that others have traded well in the past. It’s driven by people’s behaviour. That’s different from the people who are scavenging for bargains and trying to get as much as possible for as little as possible.”

He added that discounts in the luxury sector were making a significant difference to the post-Christmas rush.

At Selfridges in the Bullring centre, Ruth Delany, 32, from Moseley, Birmingham, saved more than £1,000 when she spent £2,033 on designer handbags and shoes. “I left home at seven this morning and I was first in the queue at the Gucci counter — I couldn’t wait to get started,” she said.

While 90 per cent of outlets in shopping centres opened yesterday, a few — including Marks & Spencer and all John Lewis stores apart from Manchester — were holding back their opening for today. Half a million people are likely to visit the West End today.

The Bluewater shopping centre in Kent attracted 75,000 people yesterday, but is expecting three times as many today.

The situation in England and Wales now all but mirrors Scotland, where Boxing Day has been a normal shopping day for many years.


'Our car park was maxed out'

Bluewater, Kent

“Our busiest period is actually the week after Christmas. This year we estimate that over 900,000 people will visit Bluewater in the week ending January 1”

Matt Clements, executive general manager of Bluewater

Bargain Canon PowerShot A710 digital camera which was £229 but has been slashed to £150 at Jessops


Meadowhall, Sheffield

“The car parks are 85 per cent full. It looks promising and by the end of the day we expect between 80,000 and 90,000 people to have visited here”

Mohammad Dajani, centre director

Bargain A 42in Panasonic TV reduced from £1,299 to £899 at Currys


Trafford Centre, Manchester

“It has been a slower start to the Christmas period, but once started people have definitely had money to spend — and have been spending a terrific amount”

Lucy Sharp

Bargain A Miss Sixty V-neck dress, down to £21 from £70 at USC


Castle Court, Belfast

“Our sales were up 3 per cent in the run-up to Christmas and that looks to be continuing. Our car park was completely maxed out between 1pm and 3pm and many stores had a queue outside them before they opened”

Caroline Magee, marketing manager, Castle Court

Bargain Debenhams had 70 per cent off home furniture


Jenners, Edinburgh

“We’ve been busy all day and had lots of people queueing this morning. Our star departments have been men’s and womenswear where we’ve got up to 85 per cent off selected items.”

Alan Thomlinson, assistant store manager

Bargain Linea suit: £15 down from £120 — sold out by lunchtime

    Well, that's Christmas out of the way. Time now for some serious shopping,
    Ts, 27.12.2006,






Stores look to post-Christmas sales,

weekend's business

not as robust as expected


Updated 12/24/2006
4:46 PM ET
USA Today
The Associated Press


Bargain hunters and latecomers flocked to stores this weekend as the retail industry made its last big push for pre-Christmas sales with increased discounts and other come-ons.

But the late-buying binge was not enough to meet sales goals, and retailers are now turning to post-Christmas business to make this season a merry one, according to one report from a national research company.

"These were big days, but they came up short in terms of traffic and sales," said Bill Martin, co-founder of ShopperTrak RCT Corp., a research firm, referring to this past Friday and Saturday. ShopperTrak monitors total retail sales at more than 45,000 outlets.

After a stronger-than-expected turnout on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, stores struggled through the first two weeks of December as consumers shopped at a disappointing pace.

Mild temperatures throughout most of the country didn't inspire shoppers to buy winter items. And with Christmas falling on a Monday, the season became another nail biter for retailers as consumers procrastinated with a full weekend to shop before the holiday.

"This is the best time in the world to shop," said Chuck Mingrone of East Haven, Conn., who was leaving a Bath & Body Works stores on Sunday at the Westfield Connecticut Post Mall in Milford, Conn., on Sunday, the day before Christmas. He said he expects to do all of his holiday shopping in two hours.

"I do it every year like this," Mingrone continued. "There are no lines and everyone is smiling. Every year, my family makes fun of me for doing this, but they are the ones who are frantic in lines."

Others were forced to shop late for lack of time or because they hadn't been in the mood.

"I don't know. Christmas just crept up on me this year," said Aimee Lovan of Des Moines, who was at the Valley West Mall in West Des Moines. "And also the weather. It's been so warm so I haven't been in a Christmas mood."

Based on data released late Sunday by ShopperTrak, sales for both Friday and Saturday generated a combined $16.2 billion, with Saturday's business generating $8.72 billion. But Martin expected Saturday's sales volume to surpass Black Friday's sales, which posted $8.96 billion.

Based on the weekend's sales results, Martin estimated that holiday sales are so far up 4.3%, short of the 5% forecast.

"We still have the week after Christmas," said Martin. "We are going to need a lot of gift card redemptions." Gift cards are only recorded on a retailers' balance sheet until the cards are redeemed.

This holiday season, consumers shopped early for flat-panel TVs, hot toys like T.M.X. Elmo and new consoles such as Sony's Playstation3, but held off on apparel, creating a mixed holiday picture.

Bright spots have been the online business and luxury stores. But many mall-based apparel chains were challenged by increased competition from department stores such as Federated Department Stores Inc.'s Macy's and J.C. Penney Co., which are benefiting from industry consolidation and fresh fashions.

Still, many mall-based stores kept to their promotional calendar throughout the season, refusing to buckle down to shoppers' pressure for the best deal. This past weekend, stores slashed prices to tempt shoppers to buy, though Marshal Cohen, chief analyst at the NPD Group, a market research company in Port Washington, N.Y., said that most merchants still weren't "panicking." Stores are realizing the holiday season also includes January, he said.

But, some stores were pulling out all the stops. Gap Inc., which has been languishing, took additional markdowns on everything from T-shirts to hooded sweatshirts and jean jackets at its namesake stores. Long-sleeve T-shirts were slashed to $9.99,from $24.50 at a Gap store in Manhattan.

Those who delayed shopping saw big benefits in waiting.

Retired school principal Carol Beck, now of Durham, N.C., was doing most of her holiday shopping Sunday and finished in about 30 minutes. She said she spent $150 and bought most things at 50% off.

Other shoppers were already done, but came to the mall Sunday to see if any other items struck their fancy.

"I buy extra gifts just in case I forget people," said Mina Singzon from Los Angeles, who was at the Glendale Galleria in Glendale, Calif. "That happens sometimes."

Taubman Centers Inc., which operates or owns 23 malls in 11 states, reported that business, based on a sampling of malls, was tracking up mid-single digit percentage increases for the week ended Saturday compared with a year ago. On Saturday, sales were up anywhere from mid-single to low-double digit increases from a year ago.

Billie Scott, spokeswoman at Simon Property Group, which owns or operates 175 malls in 38 states, said that half of the malls that were sampled reported traffic and business on Saturday was about the same as the previous Saturday; the other half said traffic was lighter, though spending was up.

Santa Monica, Calif.-based Macerich Co., which operates 80 malls nationwide, reported that traffic was up 36% in the week ended Saturday from the previous week.

Kathleen Waugh, spokeswoman at Toys "R" Us said this past week was "exceptionally strong, " particularly on Saturday.

Meanwhile, a late buying binge online helped online retailers surpass holiday sales forecasts, according to comScore Networks. Online spending from Nov. 1 through Wednesday reached $21.68 billion, marking a 26% increase compared to the corresponding year-ago period. The results exclude travel, auctions and corporate purchases. ComScore expected holiday sales to rise 24%.

The final days before Christmas and post-holiday business, boosted in party by gift cards redemptions, have becoming increasingly important for retailers.

According to BigResearch, which conducted a poll for the National Retail Federation, consumers are expected to spend a total of $24.81 billion on gift cards this holiday season, up from $18.48 billion in the year-ago period.

Jason Cameron from West Haven, Conn., bought some American Eagle gift cards for his sisters and girlfriend on Sunday.

"They're quick and people can get whatever they want," he said.

Now, stores need Cameron's sisters and girlfriend to redeem them quickly.

    Stores look to post-Christmas sales,
    weekend's business not as robust as expected, UT, 24.12.2006,







catches families even amid affluence


Updated 12/22/2006
10:51 AM ET
USA Today
By Wendy Koch


FALLS CHURCH, Va. — Christine Fuller finds holiday kindness at unexpected moments, such as before sunrise at a bus stop 7 miles from the White House.

A bus driver sees her switching buses each weekday morning at 6:15 with four neatly dressed children, ages 6 to 10, as she escorts them to a before-school program. The driver lauds their behavior and says he wants to give each child a Christmas present.

Fuller doesn't know his name. He doesn't know hers. She says presents would be fine.

The bus driver also doesn't know that Fuller and her children are homeless. They've been living at a shelter since September. Fuller has a full-time job that pays her $23,000 a year but says she can't afford an apartment in this affluent suburb of Washington, D.C., where a typical two-bedroom apartment rents for $1,225 a month.

The problem of poverty and homelessness — and how difficult it is to escape — is poignantly illustrated in the hit movie The Pursuit of Happyness, which stars Will Smith and his son, Jaden.

At least 2 million Americans, many of whom have jobs and families, are homeless at some point over the course of a year, says Philip Mangano, executive director of the White House's Interagency Council on Homelessness.

"It's very traumatic for children," Mangano says.

It can be particularly so in a place like Falls Church and surrounding Fairfax County, one of the nation's wealthiest areas with a median household income of $94,600.

Fuller, 32, tries to ward off any trauma by focusing on routines and maintaining dignity in tough circumstances.

Her day starts at 3:45 a.m., in the two-bedroom, 300-square-foot unit her family occupies at Shelter House, a county facility that can house seven families.

Fuller gets ready for her job as a dispatch assistant at a courier service, then at 5 a.m. wakes her boys, William, 10, and Isaiah, 7. After she gets them going, she rouses the girls, Beatrice, 8, and Jhavona, 6.

"Mom, our life is so boring," she says the kids tell her. "You sound like a drill sergeant."

They're out the door by 5:45 a.m. with a snack in hand to catch the first public bus. They switch buses before arriving at a before-school program that opens at 6:30 a.m. The kids have subsidized breakfast and lunch at school.

"My 7-year-old knows every bus route," says Fuller, sitting on a vinyl couch in her unit's small living area.

After dropping off the kids, she boards another bus to get to her job, which she has held for three years, by 7:30 a.m. She works until 5 p.m. and then takes a bus to pick up her kids at an after-school program. She pays $177 monthly for the child care. The unsubsidized cost for four kids in similar programs in Fairfax County is $1,500.

Being homeless during the holidays can be particularly grim, but this month Fuller and her children have received several gifts from charitable residents, from dolls to firetrucks to a microwave oven. Such gifts reflect both the generosity of individuals and the same community wealth that has hindered Fuller's ability to find her own place to live.

"Apartments cost a lot here," says Fuller, a never-married high school dropout who has six children in all. The two oldest — a 16-year-old boy and a 14-year-old girl — live with a family friend in a nearby town and are in their high school's marching band.

Fuller says she can't move to a more affordable city or distant suburb because her job is near downtown Washington and she has no car. Despite the difficulty of living in such an expensive area, she's also reluctant to go elsewhere because she grew up here, and her mother and grandparents live nearby.

Fuller receives child support from the father of one of her children. She doesn't know where one of the fathers is, and another helps out with child care on weekends. But when it comes to finances, she's largely on her own.


Families without homes

Families with children make up about 40% of the nation's homeless people, according to a USA TODAY analysis of government data. Those in homeless families represent about 55% of the roughly 2,000 homeless people in Fairfax, which has about 1 million residents.

More than half the single homeless adults in Fairfax are white, while 65% of those in homeless families are African-American, according to a county report released this month.

Two of every five homeless adults in Fairfax works, says Gerry Connolly, chairman of the county Board of Supervisors. "A lot of people benefit from our vibrant economy, but others are cut out," he says. He cites the loss of hundreds of affordable housing units during the recent real estate boom.

"When you meet the (homeless) children, your heart breaks," Connolly says, "because they haven't done anything to deserve it."

He says Fairfax, like many jurisdictions across the nation, has stepped up efforts to find more places for the homeless to stay, either through their friends and relatives or churches, motels and shelters. It doesn't always work. He says some people live in their cars.

"We've even had people living in the woods under tarps," he says.

For most of her life, Fuller lived with her grandparents in a three-bedroom house in nearby Arlington County. When the grandparents moved to a two-bedroom apartment in Arlington, officials said it was too small for Fuller and her children to also live there, so she spent six months in a shelter. She moved into a three-bedroom basement apartment in Fairfax County, but officials there deemed it a fire hazard.

Fuller and her four youngest children then spent three months in a motel room paid for by Fairfax County before a unit became available at Shelter House.

"We're helping the working homeless," shelter director Joe Meyer says.

The children "know this isn't their own place," Fuller says. They can't invite kids over for play dates or birthday parties. She adds that like many youths who struggle to cope with the trauma of being homeless, her children have suffered from mood swings, depression and other problems.

"I know I have to better myself for my kids," she says. She tells her kids to "stay in school, … stay out of jail, stay out of trouble."

Fuller says when she sees her 14-year-old daughter, she warns her: "Don't make the mistakes I made" by, among other things, getting pregnant while in high school.

At Shelter House, government workers make sure homeless families get food stamps as well as benefits from Medicaid and mental health and social services agencies. Parents such as Fuller must attend evening workshops on parenting, alcohol and drug awareness, financial planning and job-seeking skills.

Families are expected to stay no more than three months, but they can stay longer if they have no other housing options and make progress toward self-sufficiency, Meyer says. He says Fuller's family will be able to stay until she can get a subsidized apartment.

"They've been a great help," Fuller says. She initially chafed at the shelter's 10 p.m. curfew and visitor restrictions, but says she's learning to manage money better and pay off $5,000 in credit card debt.

Fuller says she's not buying Christmas toys for her children, only necessities. Sometimes they tease her, calling her "the Grinch."

Fairfax board Chairman Connolly's concern about the impact of homelessness on families is reflected in the waiting list for the 32 units the county has available at Shelter House and two other facilities. The list is approaching 90 families.

A report released last week by the U.S. Conference of Mayors that analyzed homelessness in 23 cities said that in most of the cities, some homeless families have to split up in order to find shelter.

"This is just unacceptable," says Trenton, N.J., Mayor Douglas Palmer, the conference's president.

The Conference of Mayors report says requests for shelter rose 9% last year in the 23 cities surveyed.

Housing affordability is the top problem, says Dennis Culhane, a University of Pennsylvania professor of social welfare policy. He says the government needs to use tax credits to push more investors and developers to build affordable apartments. He says it's much cheaper to give a housing subsidy to a homeless family than to put the family in a shelter, which can cost $50,000 for a 14-month stay.

Mangano says federal spending on housing subsidies has risen in recent years, but the number of available units hasn't increased because of rising real estate prices.


Adding holiday cheer

While communities struggle to find solutions for homelessness, people such as Ginger Mahon are helping make the lives of homeless families a little better this time of the year by playing Santa.

Mahon, a PTA president in Great Falls, Va., a half-hour drive from Shelter House, asked her neighbors to "adopt" a homeless family for Christmas. She asked several shelters for wish lists of items that homeless people wanted and matched them with donors.

The Fullers are receiving not only a microwave but also an air hockey table, a $100 Target gift card, a blanket, pots, pans and dinnerware. Other families at the shelter are getting presents, including hundreds of dollars in gift cards.

"During the holidays, the community really reaches out," says Meyer, the shelter's director. He says people wanted to donate iPods last year, but he reminded them that shelter residents don't have computers to download songs.

On Thursday, Ted Smith, the bus driver who sees Fuller and her children each weekday, gave the kids huge bags of toys that he and his wife had bought. "You do good in school and thank the Lord for all you have," he told the youngsters.

Fuller says Beatrice and Jhavona had wanted dolls, and Isaiah asked for firetrucks. William wanted a Sony PlayStation 3, which costs at least $600, but he knew his mom couldn't afford it.

Fuller says William told her: "All I really want for Christmas is our own place."

Homelessness catches families even amid affluence,
UT, 22.12.2006,










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