The Women’s Gift Exchange of Sherman held its annual reception Thursday to disperse funding to a number of local non-profit organizations around the community.

The WGE was able to provide over $8,500 to 11 nonprofit organizations in the community. Store Manager Alicia Marsh said while that number is lower than in years past any amount is important.

She also said the focus has changed in some ways while they try to provide funding for different areas anyway they can help.

“Our mission is to sell neat things, new items and use the funds raised from selling those to help support local charities as well as help local artists,” Marsh said. “We work with local charities that are locally based that often don’t get a lot of federal funding. We help support all three charities in the area that help feed kids over the weekend. There is one in Sherman, Denison and Pottsboro. We work with other local groups that do so much good right here in the community.”

Marsh said this was the first year the reception was held in the evening instead of during the day and that helped attendance tremendously as they had 100 percent show up for the first time. She said it is a good opportunity for the non profits to talk to one another about the work they do in the community while sharing how they intend to utilize the funds.

“It is really gratifying,” Marsh said. “I have been working retail for over 20 years. I love working retail but there is an extra encouragement that comes from knowing the money is going straight back to the community. It is also neat watching new artists grow and try new things, discovering what they like to do and helping them grow. It is fun on that side. I love seeing people come and and see what we support.”

The non profits that received funding this year included Grand Central Station Dining Car, Grand Central Station Children’s Express, Sherman Community Players Theatrics Summer Camp, Children’s Chorus of Greater Texoma, Family Promise of Grayson County, Kids Pantry, Divine Equine Therapeutic Riding Center, Home Hospice of Grayson, Cook and Fannin Counties, MasterKey Ministries of Grayson County, Habitat for Humanity of Grayson County and Child and Family Guidance Center of Texoma.

The organization itself operates as a combination retail store to show case local artisans and entrepreneurs as well as a fund raising mechanism for local nonprofits in the area.

The shop was established in 2010. Marsh said it is exciting to be completing its first decade of operation and how exciting everyone is looking forward to the next decade.

The organization has its roots in the Federation of Women’s Gift Exchanges, going all the way back to the 1800s as a means for women to raise money by selling things they made in their homes. It was originally a way for single women and girls who had more limited opportunities at that time. It is only the second one in Texas, out of 20 total in the country.

Now it is a way for women to work together to support nonprofits in the community while providing a retail space for items, typically unique and often locally produced or with limited local availability. For example there is one vendor that produces a hand cream in Arlington that the store sells.

The store is located inside Kelly Square in Downtown Sherman beneath Fulbelli’s at 115 South Travis Street. It is open Tuesday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.