When it comes to giving the gift of love, Carter’s House is an expert! The local nonprofit returned for the third year to host its annual holiday boutique for Irving ISD families. Parents from Gilbert, John Haley, and Schulze elementary schools, as well as Austin Middle School, were invited to a one-day shopping extravaganza – for free!

The idea is the brainchild of Carter’s House founder and Irving ISD parent Shawana Carter. Her organization is a staple in the community, providing clothing assistance year-round to families and children. Last year, Carter’s House took home Irving ISD’s 2019 Golden Apple Award, an honor that recognizes the district’s top Partner in Education for the year. Now, Carter’s House is back for the holidays and teaming up with its partner school, John Haley, to give back to local families once again.

From school uniforms to baby outfits, coats to toys, attendees had the opportunity to peruse and fill their carts with items to take home for the holidays. If it seems like a huge undertaking, it certainly is! Months of planning came to a head Thursday evening as the school gym was filled with boxes, hangers and empty racks in preparation for the big day.

Volunteers made up of parents, teachers and student leaders from Austin and Nimitz High School worked tirelessly to get everything in place before doors opened Friday morning. “Last year, we welcomed almost 600 families,” explained John Haley counselor Tamique Akins. “This year, we are anticipating 872!”

A simple registration got you through the door and into what Carter’s House called “Whoville.” Many of the items were purchased by Carter’s House, while others were donated by local organizations such as Hope Supply Company. What’s more, hundreds of items came through clothing drives hosted by participating schools – a wonderful display of neighbors helping fellow neighbors. In addition to the shopping experience, parents were able to visit a resource fair featuring several community vendors such as Irving Family Advocacy and All Things Made New mentoring program.

“The rewarding part is the look on parents’ faces,” says Ms. Carter. “This district has done so much for my own children. It’s amazing to be able to give back to these babies, so that they have what they need. We can’t cover everything, but we can cover a piece of it.”