Gifts From The Heart Offers Unique, Fun Options

The front room of Gifts From The Heart has gifts for a variety of professions and occasions. This room is frequently redecorated based on seasons.The back room features a large children's section with space for games, storytime and other activities.
Staff Writer

Looking for a meaningful gift or an activity for the kids? Look no further than Gifts From The Heart. 

Opened on June 12, Gifts from the Heart is the post-retirement project of Sheila Craft and offers gifts for any occasion or any season. When Craft retired from teaching after more than 16 years of shaping young minds, she still wanted to help kids and families grow but until recently, she didn’t have her own place to do that. 

“I have some things in the Hallmark store off of Indiana Avenue but I wanted to do more,” she said.

Located at 120 S. Front St., the small shop is just a short walk from Spring Street on offers a wide variety of items for sale from locally made — and named — candles, cookie cutters and candies to books, toys and games for kids of all ages. And focusing on children is a big part of Craft’s desire to open her own store.

To help her achieve her goal of "doing something good," Craft has offered classes and activities for children to do over the summer and she is now working on getting after school activities up and running for the other three seasons. She said she has a woman who volunteers to teach piano lessons and is in the process of starting a music class for toddlers. Another option for fun is in the works as Craft is working with one of her vendors to start a jewelry making class.

“Planning the activities that I want to hold is probably the best part of having my own place,” Craft said. “

Inspired by the creativity of children, Craft offers a Lego challenge on Fridays but noted that competition with school schedules has caused her to reevaluate some of her classes. 

“We’re still working out what we want to offer, and when, during the school year but we do have events coming up soon for anyone in the community to come to,” she said.

With her focus on children and children’s literature, it works out perfectly that the first fall season Craft has her own store is also the 50th birthday of an iconic children’s book. “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” will turn 50 this month and Craft said she is planning a birthday brunch on Sept. 28 for the colorful bug.

“We’re going to hold a birthday party for ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’ here from 10:30 to 11:30 and we’re going to have a little get together with games, a craft and of course we’ll read the book,” she said. 

To help spread the word about Gifts From The Heart, Craft recently became a member of the St. Marys Area Chamber of Commerce. The addition of the new business to the chamber helped to confirm what chamber Director Abby Balster already knew about the downtown area.

“When I look around downtown at stores like the Island Shoppe and Hudson Jewelers and I think of all the high-quality products they have available, I think this is another store to add to that list of high-quality shops in St. Marys,” she said. 

Gifts From The Heart is open on Wednesdays from 3 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., Thursdays and Fridays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. An updated calendar of event and information on new programs can be found by visiting the store in person or by calling 567-644-5671. Gifts From The Heart can also be found on Facebook at Shop Gifts From The Heart.