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Pop-up shop helps families of abuse victims in Tarrant County

The Alliance For Children serves more than 2,000 child abuse victims a year in Tarrant County.

Holiday shopping can be stressful. For some families in Tarrant County, the reason is a bit different.

"We may have caregivers who think, I can't even get to the store right now to pick out gifts for my children, I just want to focus on the healing process," Julia Braun explained.

Braun is with the Alliance For Children, the county's non-profit advocacy center for child abuse victims. They help at least 2,000 victims of physical and sexual abuse a year. She says the holidays can intensify anxiety for victims and their families.

"It might not even be a financial stress they're going through. Just the stress of going through something traumatic," she said.

That's why the organization has always tried to lighten their load this time of year. But this holiday season, they tried something different: they created a pop-up store called "Christmas Connection." It was just for child abuse victims and their families. The store was stocked: bikes, Barbies, you name it, they had the gift.

In all, 200 caregivers shopped for 400 children and all of it-- yes, all of it-- was free. "To be able to provide these items for them is a tremendous blessing for us," said volunteer coordinator Jamie Harton.

Harton and Braun added that allowing caregivers a chance to shop in a safe space like this was much appreciated.

Another special aspect of the pop-up store was that every single thing was donated, from the building to the tables to each toy and piece of clothing. They say the concept worked so well this year that they're hoping to make it a Christmas tradition.

"We've had people leaving saying I didn't think we'd have Christmas this year, just in tears, and so excited they get to offer gifts to their kiddos this year," Braun said. "It's been pretty amazing."

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