It happens every year. Once the wrapping paper is torn away and the excitement is over, you keep looking at that one gift that you can’t imagine anyone actually thought was a good idea to buy for you! It doesn’t mean it was a bad gift (and you certainly did a great job with the smiles and thanks when you took it from the box) but let’s just say maybe it really isn’t your style or taste.
Great Harvest in Omaha has found a way to take those unwanted gifts and use them to help people in need with their “Unwanted Gift Exchange.” Each year, they ask customers to bring in their unwanted gifts and exchange it for a free loaf of Honey Whole Wheat or Old Fashioned White bread. The gift items are then donated to the Assistance League Omaha.
Former Assistance League President, Jane Addy, says that several years ago she approached Great Harvest owners, Dennis and Marian Cihacek about the charity. “Great Harvest was looking for charities that could use these gifts and I talked to them about what we do to assist those in need in our area. We pick up the items each year and hold a “Sweetheart Sale” at our thrift shop in February to sell these gifts.
Great Harvest was recently given the Crystal Bell award from the league because their gift donations have helped the group raise over $9000 in the past few years.
The Cihaceks have supported other charities with these gifts, but for the past few years they’ve worked with the Assistance League. Marian said, “What appealed to me about this group is the support they give to needy children. Each year they buy new clothes, backpacks, supplies, warm coats and mittens…whatever will help these kids. We’re happy to be a part of that. The annual February sale has become quite the tradition with lines out the door of the thrift shop. We love that people who donate get something they really love – our bread - while helping to raise funds for such a worthy charity.”
Marian added that in exchange for the loaf, all they ask is that the gift be new and in the original packaging. “You can’t imagine some of the great items we’ve received and how generous our customers can be. I remember once we got a Seiko watch that the league was able to sell for $60.”
Jane said, “This is such a wonderful partnership. Great Harvest in Omaha really thinks about their own community. They are kind hearted people making a wonderful contribution.”
If you have an unwanted gift lying around, don’t stick in the closet and forget about it. Instead, put it to good use and donate it to a charity. It is truly a way to keep the spirit of Christmas alive all year.
Do you have a story about an unwanted gift you received?