The Women’s Center of East Texas this past week kicked off its “Stock the Sleigh” holiday fundraiser for children of domestic violence with a modern twist.

This year, the Christmas tree in the front entrance of Hope’s Closet off of Wal Street in Longview is decorated with paper ornaments featuring a QR code.

The bar code, which can be scanned with a smartphone, will bring up the Women’s Center website where a donor can “adopt” a child, donate a monetary gift or shop for the children through the center’s Amazon wishlist.

“It allowed us to put everything in there,” Director of Community Engagement Sheri Wayt said of the QR code and new program the center uses. “It’s so much easier because they can just sign up.”

Though the ornaments can only be found at the location on Wal Street, posters with the QR code can be found at all Hope’s Closet locations. Hope’s Closet is a resale store that benefits the Women’s Center.

Donors who choose to “adopt” a child will be provided with the child’s age, gender and their wishlist to buy Christmas presents for them. Each ornament represents one of the more than 60 children in need this holiday season.

The youngest child is 2 months old, and the eldest is 18. The children each have items listed as wants, needs and clothing.

“The little ones, they’re asking for baby dolls, bicycles, scooters,” Wayt said. “Teenagers are wanting hoodies, AirPods, soccer balls, skateboards.”

Wayt said the wants, needs and clothing overlap for some children.

“We have items that kind of make you sad,” she said. “A lot of kids have asked for some blankets.”

Warm winter clothing and shoes are also common items. For many of the children, this is the only way they will be able to have Christmas gifts, Wayt said.

“They’re just trying to get their feet back under them,” Wayt said. “We also have women who are still living with their abuser and it’s possible that he uses the finances as a way of controlling her. He might not be willing to give her the money to go buy kids gifts.”

She explained that some women who are survivors of domestic abuse are just starting out, figuring out how to make it without a second income.

“These kids want to be just like everybody else’s kids,” Wayt said.

The center used to host a Christmas party with snacks and crafts for children while the mothers went shopping through donated items for the children. In 2020, the Women’s Center decided not to have the party due to COVID-19 concerns.

The new “adopt a child” format worked well last year so the center decided to continue this year without the party, Wayt said.

“We still feel like, for the safety of our clients and our staff, we want to make certain that everyone stays healthy and well for the holidays,” Wayt said.

Those who wish to donate may select as many children as they wish. People also can visit the center’s Amazon wish list to purchase a toy to be shipped to the center. Anyone also can make a monetary donation or a gift card donation.

The deadline for gifts is Dec. 15. The donations should be unwrapped and dropped off at 1011 Wal St., Suite 101.

A local service group will be wrapping the presents.

For more information, visit .

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Courtney Stern is a public safety reporter covering a wide range of topics. She grew up in Baltimore and later earned a journalism degree from the University of Miami. Stern moved to East Texas from Iowa with her husband and two dogs, Pebbles and Bam Bam.