(Baltimore – Dec. 2018) The Baltimore City and Carroll County Head Start programs of Catholic Charities joyfully embraced the season of giving by once again hosting our Super Stores i.e. Christmas pop up shops for families of our preschool students.

“Our parents and grandparents were able to ‘shop’ for their children by using points they’ve accrued through constructive involvement in their preschooler’s education,” said Mary Gunning, program director of the Catholic Charities Head Start of Baltimore City. According to Gunning, 257 families benefitted from the City Head Start Christmas shop.

These pop-up shops help to alleviate the financial strain of the holiday season that all of our families face. Head Start has offered these shops since 1992 when it was started by Amy Collier, division director Community Services.

All of the new toys, books, bikes, balls, coats, and electronics were generously donated by volunteers. In November, members of the Alliance, CC-MD’s young professionals who are committed to helping those in need, hosted the third annual Toys and Trivia event. According to Alliance member and Toys and Trivia Chair, Erin Smyth Tielsch, the event collected more than 250 brand toys for the superstores.

However, the largest collection of donated items arrived aptly on Christmas morning. Not by sleigh but by U-Haul from New Jersey – not the North Pole and driven by husband and wife team Layne Huttenberger and Susan Winchurch our Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus who’ve generously supported the pop-up shops since 1998. Huttenberger and Winchurch are native Baltimoreans and return every year to Pig Town to bring nearly 1000 toys that they have collected throughout the year. All of the new toys fill the hall of Transfiguration Catholic Church (formerly St. Jerome’s) where Huttenberger’s parents were married more than 50 years ago. Their first donated item 20 years ago were Tonka Trucks. “When I was growing up – right here in Baltimore – I desperately wanted a Tonka Truck. Now, I get the chance to make a wish come true for others,” he said while arranging the toys for all the girls and boys.