The Neighborhood Ministries is a group that meets the needs of the poor community in the Metro area. Their headquarters/church/meeting place is in downtown Phoenix. One of the ministries they have is to the parents of needy families. They allow adults to volunteer there in exchange for ministry money. It's not actually money redeemable for cash, but it is redeemable for brand new items during the Christmas store. People donate brand new items to the Christmas store so that these parents can purchase them with the volunteer dollars they've earned throughout the season. Why have a store instead of just giving handouts? Well, the idea behind doing the store comes from wanting to give people a sense of dignity in providing for their families during the Christmas season when so many needy families find they have no ability to give to their children. Instead of someone coming in, giving them things, and the parents being left with a remorse and lack of dignity from not being able to support their family, they now are able to earn these gifts for their family. All that to say, KAIO, the college-age and twenty-somethings group at ncc, got to join in on helping out during the Christmas store. There were lots of different jobs, but we all were set up as personal shoppers. We got to partner with a parent, take them through the store's mad rush, carry their gifts, keep a running total of what they were spending, and make sure they didn't go over their amount. We got to do this three times. It was quite an ordeal. People rushing to and fro, looking for what they could get their family. There were bikes, video games, a PSP or two, an iPod Nano, a couple TVs, jackets, things for him, things for her, children's toys for both boys and girls, balls, movies, and even kitchen appliances (nothing huge, but there were a couple of smaller refrigerators about 3-4' tall). Carrying it all, getting it to the holding area, keeping a running total, trying to understand their Spanish (most were Hispanic and couldn't speak English), getting them checked out, and helping them to their vehicle. And all of that three times. It was quite a rush. I was truly blessed to be a part of it (and I got to utilize my Spanish a lot!). I was personal shopper #19.