Excited children and cheerful volunteers crowded around the East-end Walmart registers and packed into Subway during the Morristown AM Rotary Club’s (Tennessee, US – District 6780) annual Christmas shopping trip on Monday.
The Rotary club has organised this trip for over 20 years with the help of generous donations from the community.
Ten children from each of the 11 elementary schools are chosen based on financial need to shop with one of the 130 volunteer shoppers.
The children first shop for clothes and necessities, then they are able to pick out toys and other items.
Leah Taylor, secretary for the Morristown AM Rotary Club, said the children often choose to get gifts for their siblings or parents during the trip as well.
Each child is given $125 of the donated funds, but Taylor said the volunteers will sometimes spend additional money from their own pockets.
“Many of the volunteers say this event kicks off Christmas for them,” Taylor said.
Laura Campbell, who has volunteered for three years, shopped with a 10-year-old boy this year.
With a big smile on his face, he said he got everything he wanted, including a set of Pokémon cards.
“I like to talk to the children,” Campbell said. “They are always so excited and very gracious.”
First-time volunteer, Leslie Clemmons, said anytime she could make a child smile, it was worth the effort.
“This is such a heartwarming and humbling experience,” she said.
Jay McElroy, Walmart store manager and Rotary member, said the event is one his employees look forward to every year as well.
“Many employees volunteer to work up front or in the toy section today to be a part of this event,” he said.
McElroy said when he was asked to join the club, he knew he wanted to immediately because he had seen the work they do first hand during his 11 years.
“It’s neat to see the community come together for this,” he said.
After shopping and bagging up their items, the children went down to Subway to see Santa and have refreshments, provided by Walmart.
Keith Coates, President of Morristown AM Rotary, said Walmart and Colortech were the major sponsors for the event and the community helped raise $14,000.
“We appreciate the community helping us so we can pass it on to the kids,” he said.
“Every year, our members look forward to shopping with kids who don’t always have toys or even the necessities.”
Source: Citizen Tribune