Donations down this holiday season for Breakthrough Urban Ministries on Chicago's West Side

If you have a long Christmas list, consider this: 5,000 presents in five days.

That is the deadline for one of Chicago’s longest serving community partners.

At Breakthrough Urban Ministries in Garfield Park, the pressure is on to provide holiday joy.

The packages are arriving.

Pre-schoolers are practicing Christmas Carols.

All is set for the annual Christmas Shop event at Breakthrough Urban Ministries on Chicago’s West Side.

But donations are down.

Yolanda Fields, Executive Director of Breakthrough Urban Ministries, estimates their donations are at about 20 percent of what they were at this time last year due to the high cost of everything.

Every Christmas, Breakthrough hosts a festive shopping experience in the agency’s gym. They set up a store, with displays and departments. Children can engage in crafts, music and snacks.

Families get to browse and buy presents, at a 90 percent discount, made possible through generous donations. 

Throughout the year, Breakthrough feeds families, houses the homeless and treats trauma. 

"I think the trauma of life takes its toll and Christmas gives people a chance to pause for a moment, give thanks, share a meal and gifts with people they love," said Fields.

The agency’s Christmas shop helped provide presents to Shajuanna Lomax’s family and much more. She looks forward to the event every year and says it has helped her provide Christmas presents for her four children. 

This year, she’ll be working at the Christmas Shop.

"It's love, it's so much love, it really is," said Lomax. 

The volunteers could just distribute the gifts. But shopping, and selecting something for someone special is an enjoyable part of the season of giving. 

Donors can experience that too by helping fill the space with gifts. 

To help, you can drop off presents at Urban Breakthrough Urban Ministries, 3219 W. Carroll Ave. or make a donation through their website.