WASHINGTON — Small businesses are struggling these days due to the economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
But that hasn’t stopped Washington Specialty Shops from helping struggling community members.
The organization that represents shops around the city’s downtown square is once again giving away a gift basket – this time worth over $200 – as part of a raffle to benefit the WHIP (Washington Helps Its People) pantry.
Raffle tickets can be picked up at Washington Specialty Shops in exchange for non-perishable food items that will be donated to WHIP.
Distribution of raffle tickets began earlier this month and will continue until the annual candlelight promenade in the square on December 3. The draw for the gift basket will take place at the end of the evening.
Washington Specialty Shops sponsors the Candlelight Walk.
“Regardless of our personal or professional struggles, it’s always important to help our neighbors in need,” said Washington Specialty Shops spokesperson and business owner Kris Hasten, who began working at Sentimental Journey. in 1982 and has owned the gift shop since 1995.
“WHIP helps people put food on the table for their families,” Hasten said. “If specialty shops can help feed our community even a little bit, we’re happy to do so.”
WHIP, which serves families in the 61571 zip code, has become busier due to the pandemic.
Lori Weston, president of WHIP, said 132 new families have signed up for food from WHIP since March.
These additional families have added approximately 50% to WHIP’s customer base. Between 299 and 356 families have received food each month since March.
“Washington businesses, churches, civic organizations, schools and individuals generously support WHIP,” Weston said. “WHIP could not survive without this support. We are blessed to be part of this generous community.”
The candlelight promenade, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on December 3, will be different this year due to the pandemic. For one thing, there won’t be the usual carriage rides.
Santa Claus will arrive in the plaza from Jefferson Street in a Washington Fire Department truck around 5 p.m. and will remain in the plaza until 7 p.m. Children can put a letter with a stamped envelope addressed to them in Santa’s bag and receive a response by Christmas. .
The Church of Our Savior Lutheran Choir and Bell Choir will perform at 5:30 p.m. The town tree lighting will take place at 6 p.m., followed by a community song.
The stores in the square will be open late for shopping.
Washington Specialty Shops is also once again sponsoring a Santa Claus Mailbox which is located outside the Denhart building in the plaza. Letters delivered with a return address before December 15 will receive a response before Christmas.
Steve Stein can be reached at (248) 224-2616 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @SpartanSteve.