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Jaycees take local kids Christmas shopping

December 12, 2004|By ALICIA NOTARIANNI

The Jaycees of Hagerstown spent Saturday sharing the Christmas spirit with 36 area children.

The children, ages 5 to 13, arrived at the Hagerstown YMCA. They boarded a bus along with 26 volunteer chaperones and headed off to Burger King for breakfast on the house. With full bellies and cardboard crowns upon their heads, they set off to shop at Target.

Melinda Woodring, 22, of Waynesboro, Pa., a member of the Jaycees, was chairwoman of the day's events. Woodring said through fund-raising activities and donations from local business, the Jaycees were able to provide each child with $55 for shopping.

Jodi Lum, president of the Jaycees, said while some of the children buy gifts for themselves, others opt to spend the money on their parents and siblings.

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Letha Grimes, 40, of Hagerstown, a member of the Jaycees, said she and another chapter member came up with the idea for the shopping day in 1993. She said the idea seemed to be a great match for the Jaycees' mission of providing community service.

Grimes recalled one year when a boy used all of his shopping money to buy a small Christmas tree and decorations for his family.

"It's just wonderful seeing the looks on children's faces," Grimes said. "It's just about seeing kids get Christmas."

Brothers Jared, 5, Aaron, 9 and Anthony, 13, shopped along with chaperone Terry Kreit, 30, of Hagerstown, a member of the Jaycees.

While choosing some toys for themselves, the boys also kept their 1-year-old sister in mind, picking up a Barbie and a Bedtime Care Bear. Aaron also dropped a disposable camera in his cart.

"You have to take pictures at Christmas time," he said.

Donnie Souders, 31, of Hagerstown, president-elect of the Jaycees, chaperoned 12-year-old Michael. Michael said his favorite part of the day was getting to shop and pick out whatever he chose. His prized item of the day was a new silver watch.

"I think it's good for (the Jaycees) to do this for kids at Christmas time," Michael said.

Souders said he sees the event as a great opportunity to reach out to children in the community.

"This allows kids to learn about budgets and to learn to shop for others," Souders said. "It teaches the joy of giving, not just receiving."

Following shopping, the children were treated to lunch at Outback Steakhouse.

Woodring said the children who participated in the event were referred through the Salvation Army and the Parent-Child Center.

Lum said since the project's inception, the number of children served has doubled. This year, expenses for the project were around $3,000, Lum said. To keep up with expenses, the Jaycees have increased their chapter fund raising and increased solicitation of donations.

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