Emily’s Place is a North Texas non-profit that provides victims of domestic violence and their children with resources to help them grow and become a part of a community again. For years, Debbie Sanders and her family have supported Emily’s Place by cooking Sunday dinners, teaching table etiquette, and showing up with a smile and an ear to listen.
In October, Sanders opened The Toy Tree, a toy store offering gifts for all ages. As the holiday season approaches, Sanders and Emily’s Place are working together once again to provide the children of Emily’s Place with gifts.
For Sanders, one of the most notable aspects of Emily’s Place’s environment is positivity. “The residents all had jobs and were trying to better themselves, which is why we loved to help,” says Sanders. “Too often there is a vicious cycle of only giving and not actually teaching, but at Emily’s Place, not only do you give but you get to participate and see real change in the individual.”
Similarly, she envisioned The Toy Tree as a space where children could learn and grow. “I opened the store for one reason: I was tired of packages just being delivered,” Sanders notes. “I wanted to create a space where kids could touch, feel, and experience the reward of being gifted something.”
Through its partnership with Emily’s Place, The Toy Tree will provide gift cards that families living in the nonprofit’s transitional housing facility can use for the Santa gifts their children will receive. Brynn Bruno, the executive director of Emily’s Place, says the partnership will help offer an equally valuable gift to their mothers — the opportunity to shop for their children’s presents themselves.
“We are so excited to empower our moms and allow them to have the chance to play Santa Claus,” says Bruno. “This is often the first time a mom has been able to do so due to her abuser.”
Both women hope the partnership will further their shared mission of promoting positive change. Anyone visiting The Toy Tree will see a tangible symbol of this shared mission. Upon entering the shop, all eyes go to the lighted tree decorated with toys in the store’s corner. “A tree is a symbol of growth,” says Sanders. “You feed it and nurture it. This is what we do and what Emily’s Place does.”