Give Thanks, Give Books: Support the St. Luke’s Toy & Book Store


November has arrived, and with it, the season of celebrating holidays and counting our blessings. Later this month, we’ll be observing a Nashville tradition we started a few years ago called IndieNashGiving — when locally owned establishments pledge to give 5-10% of their sales to the local charity of their choice for one day. It always falls on Small Business Saturday — the Saturday after Thanksgiving, which is one of the busiest shopping days of the year. That means when you shop, dine, grab coffee, or buy gifts at any participating Nashville-owned businesses on Saturday, November 24, 2018,  you’ll get what you need and provide something someone else needs. So you’re not just supporting the local economy — you’re supporting the important organizations that take care of Nashville, too. All without spending an extra cent!

Are you a local business owner? Want to pledge your participation? Fill out the form here.

Today we want to tell you about one of the two nonprofits we’ll be supporting through IndieNashGiving this year: the St. Luke’s Community House Toy & Book Store. Not only will we donate a portion of our sales that Saturday to their cause, you can support it RIGHT NOW by donating books! Here’s a Q&A with Corey Gephart, St. Luke’s Community House CEO, with more details:

So, for our readers near and far who aren’t yet familiar with the mission of St. Luke’s Community House and what it offers, can you give us a little crash course? Who does St. Luke’s serve and how does it serve them?

Corey 2017CG: Of course! St. Luke’s creates a community where children, families, and seniors from different backgrounds can easily access the resources needed to live fulfilling lives. St. Luke’s is a social services agency founded in 1913 and working from the same location since 1920. We work with people of all ages across the Nashville community, from young children in our preschool, to seniors in our mobile meals program and senior friends club. We operate as a hub for nonprofits, connecting our neighbors with the services they need with ease of access.

One of the most impactful programs that St. Luke’s undertakes each year is the holiday toy store, right? Why has St. Luke’s transitioned to the store model for this program?

CG: Yes! We love our Christmas program and it is one of the best times of the year here. We have transitioned completely into the Toy Store model this year and are so excited. There are a few reasons we made the switch, but the most important is that it provides clients with dignity. So many Christmas programs give parents no choice, no control, and no chance to be personally invested in the process. Through our Toy Store, we are able to empower parents to make choices and purchases on their own terms, while still getting the help they need.

This year we are also thrilled to partner with Parnassus Books to bring incredible books to children at no cost to their parents. The gift of reading might be one of the greatest gifts of all!

For a parent or caregiver participating in the Toy Store as a client, what does that look like? What kind of impact does that have on a family?

Screen Shot 2018-10-29 at 4.08.37 PMCG: It’s very easy to sign up, and anyone in Davidson county with legal custody of children (from birth through seniors in high school) can do so at our front desk. Our Toy Store is open December 7-8, 2018, and registered parents will get information about the location and times to shop. During the Toy Store, registered parents come in and purchase gifts for their children for a small fraction of the retail cost. For example, a $30 Lego set might be $3, a $25 Barbie would be $2, and new bicycles are $20. All books are free of charge as are school supplies and gift wrapping! Being able to purchase at such a low cost eliminates incredibly difficult financial choices while also giving a working parent the pride of being able to provide for their children, to choose their gifts, and of being a partner in the process instead of just a recipient.

And what about for the families who participate in the store as donors, how does that work? How can they get involved — regardless of whether they live in Nashville?

CG: Oh. it’s so simple! Some donors have made it a part of their family’s Christmas tradition for decades. To purchase toys, you can call (615) 324-8375 to receive a shopping list, or simply shop for any new toys and drop them off at our front desk. You can also visit our website to access lists of toys that can be shipped directly to St. Luke’s.

We also want everyone to know they can be a part of our new partnership with Parnassus, too! Anyone nationwide can visit our Parnassus book list page to see a specially curated list of books for young readers. I personally am letting my 9- and 7-year-old daughters pick their favorites for the Toy Store this year.

Nashville citizens are already getting in the spirit! Actor and author Kimberly Williams-Paisley (pictured at right with her sister, actor Ashley Williams, celebrating their holiday sweater-decorating tradition) says: “Books are a big part of our family life, and a big part of our holiday traditions. When I was a kid, we all gathered around the tree on Christmas Eve and read The Night Before Christmas, a poem we all knew by heart. Brad [Paisley] and I carry on that tradition today with our two boys. I love what St. Luke’s is doing with Parnassus for their holiday store. A tradition of giving books can help families in need create their own happy holiday traditions.”
Why did St. Luke’s reach out to Parnassus this year to coordinate book donations for the store? (Why not, say, work with a big online bookseller, or just invite donor families to donate used books?)

CG: First of all, we are all about community. Lifting each other up and connecting our neighbors is so important! While any books would be nice, we want to be able to give our clients the respect they deserve and the joy of being able to give brand new books to their children. Just like St. Luke’s, Parnassus Books is what it looks like when grassroots grow deep. It just seems like a great combination of authenticity and generosity.

What role will the donated books play in the store and in the lives of the kids and teens whose parents will participate in the store as clients? 

CG: These books can be life-changing. Our Toy Store can help parents create a happy holiday, and thanks to our Parnassus collaboration, they can create happy readers, too. Parnassus has done such a lovely job of curating an amazing list of books, all of which have the potential to become lifelong favorites. It gives kids an opportunity to be exposed to things they may not have been otherwise – a world of imagination. Their parents can also have the unique pride that comes with investing in your child’s future.

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Readers, everywhere: You can donate books to the St. Luke’s Toy & Book Store starting right now! Just visit the wish list here.

Nashville independent business owners: Be a part of IndieNashGiving! Fill out the form here to pledge your donation and choose the nonprofit your business will support.

Keep an eye on Musing for more on IndieNashGiving and our other beneficiary, coming up later this month!

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