Holiday Heroes: St. Margaret's House

ABC57'S Holiday Heroes continues with a look at St. Margaret's House in downtown South Bend, a day center for women and children.

The center is making sure Christmas is special for each and every person who needs the extra help.

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For Denise Berscheit, every Thursday is the same.

"I'm here from 9 in the morning till about 1 or 1:30," she said. "Just depends on how busy we are."

She spends every Thursday at St. Margaret's House, as she's done for the last 20 years. 

It's a place that feels like home to her and the women who use their services daily. 

The mission is to provide a safe space for women and children who may not have a place to go during the day but during the holiday season, they need extra support from the community.


"It could be me," Berscheit said. "It could be me on the street. It could be me struggling with finances, struggling trying to take care of my children figuring out how I'm going to do it. I just wanna give back. And I'm just fortunate that I can."

And while Berscheit is busy in the kitchen, volunteers and staff are getting ready to open "The Christmas Shoppe," a spot where guests can pick up some gifts for themselves and their families. 

"So either moms can come pick it out for the children or they can bring them with them if they like," said Tanika Harris, Director of Guest Services. "Each child will walk away with a large gift and a small gift. We have books and puzzles and other items to give out."

Harris is better known as Santa-nika to her colleagues. She helps set up The Christmas Shoppe each year.

And they are still in need of some presents to put under the tree.

"We're in need of items for our women," Harris said. "Women's gifts. The ladies love like pots and pans, small appliances. Robes, blankets, slippers."

and of course, Santa needs his elves!

Cindy Benedict volunteers her time sorting through donations for The Christmas Shoppe.

"Anything that we can do to help others brings me joy and fulfillment," Benedict said. "Literally I sort through tons of gifts and used clothing and other household items that come in."

To pull this all off, it takes a village. And women like Cindy, Tanika and Denise are essential to our community.

"The ladies at St. Margaret's House touch my soul because we're all ladies, we're all women," said Berscheit. "We all need to be looked after. We need to be fed. And we learn from one another."

"We are some people's only safe haven and so I feel like us being here has really saved lives," said Harris.

"The Christmas Shoppe in particular, this event, I feel empowers the women to feel loved and respected," said Benedict. "And I want to thank all the generous members in our community who have made this joyful event possible."

The Christmas Shoppe at St. Margaret's house opened on Tuesday and will stay open until Thursday for guests of St. Margaret's House.

The shop is not open to the public.

If you are wanting to donate any gifts, please be sure they are brand new items.

Click here to learn more about St. Margaret's House.

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