On a tight budget? Start your Christmas shopping this weekend at the Trinity Thrift Store in Lehighton. The store will is hosting its annual Christmas sale at Trinity Lutheran Church's Luther Hall now through Tuesday.

The sale will be held today, Monday and Tuesday from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. It's a chance to find unique gifts at low prices and to help feed local families with your purchases.

Every dollar received will benefit the Trinity Food Pantry, which provides food assistance to needy families in the Lehighton Area School District.

Sale items include indoor and outdoor holiday decorations, ornaments, jewelry, cards, knick-knacks, candles, angels, clothing, baby items and toys, and small appliances. Artificial trees, wreathes and swags are also available.

"We have many items, many brand new items, that would be appropriate for gifts," said Kay Patterson, the manager of the Thrift Store.

New this year are a limited number of handmade items, including crafts, stocking stuffers and decorations. A number of paintings and framed artwork have also been donated and will be available during the Christmas sale.

Nearly a dozen volunteers spent the day before Thanksgiving preparing for the sale, displaying items and turning Trinity's Luther Hall into a holiday shopper's haven.

Both the Trinity Thrift Store and Food Pantry rely primarily on volunteers and donations from the community. Every item sold at the Christmas sale (and in the Thrift Store's main shop) has been donated to the store, which allows them to contribute every dollar spent directly to the pantry. Donations of new and gently-used items are accepted year-round.

The pantry currently serves about 500 needy families each month, a number that has been steadily growing. Each eligible family receives one to two bags of food per month with enough food to feed each adult or child for approximately three days.

"The pantry is a very important ministry here," Patterson said. "There are still a lot of people who are unemployed or looking for work. The economy is supposed to be doing better, but it hasn't yet filtered down to Lehighton."

She noted that while the pantry does receive state funds, those funds have been reduced over the years, leaving the pantry to rely heavily on individual donations and the Thrift Store's support. It costs the Trinity Pantry thousands of dollars each month to feed local families in need, and a significant portion of costs are covered by Thrift Store sales.

"We are very fortunate here, that the Thrift Store is able to support the Pantry. It has meant that we have not had to turn people away," Patterson said. "We appreciate our customers' support very much."

Trinity Lutheran Church and the Trinity Thrift Store are located at 175 S. Third St., Lehighton.