INDIANAPOLIS — Every holiday season, The Christmas Experience sets up a store-like space where Indy families in need can shop free of charge for toys and gifts for their kids.

That’s only where the help begins, though.

Volunteers use the shopping time to learn about each family’s greater needs or what’s holding them back, then connect them to on-site resources to help.

“We’ve had families that are going back to school, that are getting jobs, that are buying homes,” said Jamie Inskeep, executive director of the nonprofit Empowering Indy, which operates The Christmas Experience. “And then they’re coming back and serving alongside us to help other families.”

The Christmas Experience began in 2010. They served 24 kids and families that first year, but it has grown by leaps and bounds since then. In 2021, The Christmas Experience helped 637 children and their families. This year, they hope to help 750.

The need is greater this year due to inflation, Inskeep said. More families are in need of help but donations have slowed. If you’re able to help, financial contributions can be made on The Christmas Experience website or you can text to give.

Go here for more information on how to help.