'Santa Express' teaches children, helps crisis nursery

'Santa Express' teaches children, helps crisis nursery

It's easy for kids to think that Christmas is all about getting presents, but it's never too early to teach them how great it feels to give...

The Santa Express Gift Shop gives them a chance to shop for the whole family.

Tables lined with small trinkets -- mostly stuff you'd find in the dollar store.
Prices at the Santa Express are anywhere between 50-cents and $8. 
Parents give their children a budget to stick to, they're paired with a volunteer elf, and they buy gifts for everyone on their lists.

A great learning opportunity for those little shoppers, and a chance for families to get to know the Vanessa Behan Crisis Nursery -- the charity that benefits from all the money raised here.

"It's fun to introduce them to what they have to offer to the community as well as kids looking forward to shopping without their parents and getting things for everybody on their list. Again, learning to budget making sure it's not about them its about giving during the holiday season," said Santa Express director Beth Duke.

The Santa Express is located in the main floor of the Crescent Building at 707 west Main. 

"Every year it grows the momentum just gets better and better, we get better sponsors we get better people that want to donate. And it just helps create excitement about the event in general," Duke said.

In its over two-decades-long operation, it has raised more than one million dollars for the nursery, providing a safe haven for children who's family life is anything but good.

Vanessa's Village is a special area of the shop. While kids shop for gifts, parents (or anyone) who needs to do some holiday shopping can come here and find gifts and holiday decor ranging from 50-cents to $30.

The Santa Express is open seven days a week, through December 23.

The team is always in need of volunteers and it's easy to do so. Check out their website here.