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Hite Digital Norman

(29 reviews)

513 SW 156th St
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73170
(405) 701-9245

If you grew up in South OKC or Moore, The Christmas Connection might sound familiar to you. As a kid in Moore schools in the 80s & 90s, I clearly remember collecting pennies & toys for drives to benefit them, but I never really understood what they were for. Years later, as a single mom who found herself humbly shopping in a church for my boys at Christmas, I understood more.

Now, as a local business owner & supporter of nonprofits, I finally understand their full light and mission, which shines so brightly across 3 Oklahoma counties. Christmas Connection is a beautiful example of compassion and community spirit here in the metro area. Under the leadership of CEO April Jolley, Director of Development Bailey Kestner, and a few other indispensable ladies on their compassionate team, this non-profit organization offers a dignified hand up to those in need year-round, affirming the power of generosity and human connection.

A Legacy Rooted in Compassion

Christmas Connection was started 43 years ago by a woman named Barbara Fagan and a close-knit group of friends. They saw a critical need in their community: there were struggling parents who couldn’t afford Christmas gifts for their kids, and their mission has always been about filling these critical voids in the community. “Christmas Connection was born out of a need to provide new toys to 363 kids, and they did that during our first year,” reflects CEO April Jolley. This mission of hope has since expanded into a year-round comprehensive support system serving around 6,000 families annually.

Empowering Through Assistance

At its core, Christmas Connection’s mission is carried out through its three programs. The Crisis Assistance Program delivers immediate support to disaster-stricken families, providing “emergency household items, bedding, towels, and more,” according to Jolley. This program is for those who find themselves the victims of fires, floods, tornadoes, and other total loss situations.

The Community Connection Program is a year-round effort that ensures families in crucial need can come & shop for essential clothing and shoes, restoring normalcy and dignity. Bailey emphasizes the importance of this support: “It’s about more than just meeting basic needs; it’s about restoring a sense of normalcy and dignity.” The store is set up like that: a store. It’s exactly like walking into your favorite department store and grabbing a shopping cart, and that’s it. You get to leave with things that you don’t pay for but that you desperately need, and you do it all in a very dignified way.

The Christmas Program, a seasonal highlight, offers new toys, coats, and other clothing & essentials during Christmastime. Jolley highlights, “Our goal is to offer a dignified shopping experience. We want people to feel seen and to feel hope.” As a person who has personally volunteered during this season, I can truly say it was a magical experience. Helping a single mom or grandmother shop for her kid’s toys and clothes & seeing the joy on her face was so humbling & special. I was sent right back to my time & place of dire need (and honestly, shame) when I had to walk through the doors of a very kind, but not necessarily dignified, shopping experience at the church during Christmas not so many years ago.

Strategic Moves and Community Engagement

There was a few-year period where Christmas Connection rebranded to Sharing Tree and had a facility in Moore. The idea was to try to spread the word that the nonprofit was active ALL year, not just during Christmas-time. However, the organization recently proudly reverted to its original name, Christmas Connection, reconnecting with its storied legacy. Their fitting slogan is “Spreading Cheer Throughout the Year.” That change was followed by an exciting relocation to a more accessible building off I-240 and Penn &, that has significantly boosted their capacity. “The new location accommodates 40% more inventory, crucial for managing waitlists,” Kestner explains. They loved being in Moore, and they still actively serve Cleveland County along with Oklahoma & Canadian Counties, but are proud to be back in South Oklahoma City in such a welcoming, bright & secure facility.

Spreading Cheer Throughout the Year!

The success of Christmas Connection heavily relies on active community engagement and partnerships with local entities like churches, schools, and law enforcement. Those partnerships are the way that people are referred to the Christmas Connection for services in one of their 3 programs. The organization relies heavily on and benefits greatly from a robust volunteer program, with nearly 10,000 hours contributed annually. Your group—church, class, school, family, work or sports team—is always welcome to come & fold clothes, sort new items & lend a hand to the tiny but mighty team at Christmas Connection. We’re all just one life event away from needing their support ourselves, and it’s up to us to lend a hand to our fellow human. Donations of goods, money & time are essential to the success of this mission. Our own local Wal-Mart even lends a hand (during my visit, there were pallets of freshly donated, overstocked goods just waiting to be unpacked & sorted in the lobby!)

A Future of Expansion and Inclusion

Looking ahead, Christmas Connection is poised & really stoked to increase its impact. “In the next few years, we anticipate serving up to 10,000 families annually,” projects Jolley, underscoring a commitment to growth and community service. The new building, leadership team & their dedicated board of directors are sure to make that statement a reality.

As Christmas Connection continues to weave its fabric of support throughout South Oklahoma City, it extends a heartfelt invitation to the community to partake in this journey of kindness and service. Whether through volunteering, donations, or partnerships, every contribution fortifies this mission.

“We exist because of the generous support from our community, and we’re dedicated to giving back by providing excellent service.”

April Jolley

To get in touch with Christmas Connection, check out their featured business profile below. You can also find them on social media here:

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Amy Singleton is a contributing author and online editor for Whirlocal South OKC, Moore, and Norman. She’s the host of the Queen Lead Podcast, a motivational & marketing keynote speaker, and the CEO at HITE.

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