47th annual Deserving Children’s shopping tour
Continuing their long standing tradition, December 5th marked the 47th annual Deserving Children’s Shopping Tour presented by the La Porte Jaycees.
The Deserving Children’s Shopping Tour gives elementary school children all over La Porte County the amazing opportunity to shop for their needs and wants. Children are chosen when a Jaycees representative gets in contact with local school counselors. The counselors then give them names and information of the students who the Shopping Tour program would most benefit.
The kids who are brought along on the tour need chaperones or drivers, which is where the local community steps into help. Applications for volunteering to be a chaperone usually come out months before the event. For safety purposes, two adults are required to be present with the children from the time they are picked up at their homes until the time they are dropped back off.
In the chaperone letter, usually sent a couple of weeks prior to the tour, chaperones are given the names and addresses of the children that they have been assigned to. Chaperones are advised to contact the guardian by phone around a week before the tour and to also locate the children’s home three to four days prior in order to confirm the address.
On the day of the tour, which this year was December 5th, the children are picked up and are taken to the main gathering held at the fairgrounds. While one escort stands in line to check in, the other takes the children to stand in line where they get the chance to meet Santa Claus and other special guests like Star Wars members and Ronald McDonald.
Each child also gets handed a stocking that is filled with goodies like hats, gloves, candy, and toothbrushes. New this year, each child was also gifted a new backpack filled with more goodies, a stuffed animal, their choice of a board game, and their choice of a book. The children then get to eat dinner, which was provided by McDonald’s.
After dinner is over, the children then get taken to Walmart where they get to spend their $125 voucher. In previous years, children were split among Walmart and K-Mart, but due to Kmart closing in early 2017, Walmart was the official designated store.
“It’s nice to be able to see the joy on the kids’ faces when they get to come and shop and they don’t have to worry about anything. We’ve got one that’s so worried about how much everything costs and we told him that he didn’t have to worry but he still was worried. That’s cool, you know, to give them that freedom to pick things that they want without worry when you know they have to struggle,” Linda Lowery, volunteer chaperone, said.
All in all, it can be concluded that the 47th annual Deserving Children’s Shopping Tour was another success in helping children in La Porte County this holiday season.