- Sarah Peters Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
After a day of holiday shopping at The Gardens Mall, you breathe a sigh of relief that the hard work of picking the perfect present for each person on your Christmas list is finished.
Then you realize you still have to wrap every gift that’s going under the tree in a way that won’t make your mom or significant other cringe. Don’t panic.
Clients and volunteers from The Arc of Palm Beach County will wrap your packages for free in a festive,suite on the mall’s second floor, just around the corner from the food court. All they ask is that you make a donation — you pick how much — to support their adult programs.
The Arc of Palm Beach County has operated the holiday suite for several years, raising more than $6,000 from gift-wrapping alone, said President & CEO Kimberly McCarten.
“The Gardens Mall customers love it. It’s wonderful for them, especially the men. A couple days before Christmas, this box is filled with $20s,” McCarten said. Don’t carry cash? This year, these holiday helpers are taking plastic too.
Apron-clad gift wrappers will be there 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. from Black Friday through Christmas Eve. (No Grinches here. A man with a couple of shopping bags wandered in while they were setting up Wednesday morning, and they obliged.)
Shoppers still searching for stocking stuffers will find a wall display filled with the mall’s top 10 gifts under $50. The wrapping suite is a boon to stressed shoppers but also provides hands-on retail and customer service experience for The Arc’s clients.
The mall donated some stocking stuffers, allowing the proceeds to go to The Arc, McCarten said.
Seeking something unique? Check out the Art d’Arc Gallery of exquisite, handmade mosaic art made by the non-profit’s clients. A life-sized mosaic guitar once on display at SunFest is now in the suite’s front window and can be had for a $5,000 donation. About 15 clients and 50 volunteers crafted the piece.
“It was a true labor of love,” McCarten said.
Smaller mosaics are displayed in glass cases in the room. The Arc artists make commission on the work they sell, McCarten said.
“I work hard on my artwork,” said Jason, one of The Arc’s clients-turned-artist. He’s eager to show his work to holiday shoppers.
Anyone who wishes to donate $10 or more can pick out an ornament from a small tree display .
There’s no per-person limit to the number of gifts they will wrap. But be prepared: The line will be out the door on Christmas Eve.
“It’s a lot of fun when you see that person walk through the door with their arms full of bags,” said Kristen Daniel, The Arc of Palm Beach County’s director of advancement.