Country music superstar Brad Paisley and his wife, Kimberly Williams-Paisley, are taking a unique approach to giving back over the Christmas season, opening up a free toy store over the Christmas season that will give 400 indigent families in the Nashville area an opportunity to get gifts for their children and make Christmas a special day despite their thinly stretched financial resources.
Called The Store, it will be open for two days over the weekend, during which time the facility will be stocked full of brand-new toys, video games, stuffed animals, scooters, clothes, makeup, and musical instruments so that parents can get their children something special for the holidays.
Speaking to the Associated Press about The Store, Paisley said, “The emotional aspect of being able to give your child something your child wanted versus just something to sort of get you through the holidays, that’s such a load off the minds of somebody who maybe didn’t think they were going to be able to do that.”
One of the shoppers, picking out gifts for her family, told the AP, “It’s a very much dignified process and it gives you the freedom of choice. So we have choice in what we present to our children. And we have choice in what we feed and put on the table, which of course empowers you.”
This iteration of The Store is an outgrowth of what that facility normally does, which is provide free groceries year-round for families below the federal poverty line and in dire need of help. To help the needy families maintain their dignity, The Store lets them shop as normal, picking out what goods they want or need, rather than just providing crates of packaged goods to families in need of help.
As it says on its website, “The Store operates with the mission of allowing people to shop for their basic needs in a way that protects dignity and fosters hope.” Anyone whose household total income is 200% of the federal poverty line or less can enroll.
Paisley and his wife opened The Store in 2020 to help give back to their community. Williams-Paisley, speaking about it, said, “People come on hard times and we want this to be a safe, welcoming place for everybody, whether you’re volunteering or whether you’re needing the services. It’s just a community and we’re all in it together.”
Williams-Paisley also said, “We’re still not serving everybody that we want to serve. Food insecurity is on the rise. The USDA just released its report saying 17 million households in this country are facing food insecurity and that’s on the rise from 2021. There’s so much we want to do. And really like the toy store has shown us that we can keep going and we can keep expanding and growing.”
Though initially just for groceries, The Store has since expanded. It offers a delivery service for the elderly and has delivered millions of meals through that, and offers services to low-income families through the nearby Belmont University, such as financial literacy events, music therapy, and medicine management.
Featured image credit: By The Official White House Photostream – P072109PS-0611, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=7561653
"*" indicates required fields