Centerstone group offers free Christmas shopping to clients - WKRN News 2

Centerstone group offers free Christmas shopping to clients

Phillip Pistole, Centerstone Phillip Pistole, Centerstone

A local facility known for providing mental health assistance to low income and homeless individuals is spreading Christmas cheer through shopping.

Volunteers spent much of Saturday transforming the Ella Hayes Center in north Nashville into a Centerstone Christmas.

The makeshift store is stocked with donated items that include luxuries like toys and decor, as well as basic essentials like coats and blankets.

"If anybody knows about me, they know about Centerstone, and they know they have to start saving their stuff up and saving their money to donate," said Dr. Phillip Pistole.

Dr. Pistole started the store several years ago during an internship with Centerstone, a non-profit chain that offers behavioral and mental health treatment and assistance at facilities across Tennessee and Indiana.

Pistole saw many clients struggle to make ends meet and realized they wouldn't have a gift-giving Christmas.

Pistole went to work, collecting donations and recruiting volunteers, primarily through his church, to set up a Christmas store that would allow clients to shop for themselves and their loved ones for free.

"It's the only time of year a lot of them get any kind of clothing or shoes. So it's really turned into an event for the clients here to really enhance their lives with material things that they just can't afford in life," he said.

Often clients find the most joy in the smallest things. Pistole recalled one woman who had her eyes on a small kitchen appliance.

"She looked at the blender. She looked at me. And she went, 'Can I have that?' And I said, 'Yes, that's yours,'" he said.

He continued, "She goes, 'Well, how much is it?' I said, 'It's free. Everything in here is free.' And just tears came to her eyes, and she just said, 'I can't believe it. I've never had a blender.'"

Today, the largest contributors to the Centerstone Christmas store are Harpeth Hills Church of Christ and The Willis Company, but countless donations of money and items keep the store stocked.

This year, the store will be open Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, December 16-18, at the Ella Hayes Center located at 1101 Sixth Avenue North.

Donations are still being accepted, for a list of needs, call the Ella Hayes Center at 615-460-4100.

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