Applications for the Children’s Shopping Tour being accepted

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The Children’s Shopping Tour will be held on Dec. 4 this year and applications for both children and volunteers are being accepted.

The steering committee for the service project started meeting six weeks ago and The Pampa News’ own ReDonn Woods was selected as the chairperson for the committee.

“I am honored and humbled to have been selected as the chairperson for the event,” Woods said. “The Children’s Shopping Tour is a great service project and shows the power of the Pampa community as they come together to take care of their own during the holidays.”

Board member AJ Taylor, who has been involved with the project for more than five years, said the need in the community is still out there.

“Since I’ve been involved we’ve had right at 50 kids,” Taylor said. “Our goal this year is 60. There are other organizations in town that help people like Soldiers for Christ. The need hasn’t gone down, there are just other organizations that help.”

The Children’s Shopping Tour, now in it’s 59th year, is different from other charity events around Christmas because the child actually buys presents for their family, not themselves.

“They don’t know that they are getting anything (at the end of the event),” Taylor said. “The idea behind Christmas is giving. While they are buying presents for their family with a chaperone and a sponsor. The sponsor will then circle back to buy for that child without the child knowing. At the Optimist Club, there is a place to wrap the presents that the child doesn’t know about.”

The deadline to register is Dec. 1 and applications can be picked up and dropped off at New Horizon Community Fellowship, located at 711 E. Harvester from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday. The rules for participation are as follows: Children in the home must be between five and 10 years old, a child must not have participated in the Children’s Shopping Tour in the past (another child in the house may go on the Tour), not signed up with Salvation Army or Tralee Crisis Center’s Angel Trees and must put all members (including adults) in the form with social security numbers.

“We do serve families multiple times as children come up through the age brackets,” Taylor said.

The Children’s Shopping Tour will also provide a winter coat and gloves to the children.

John Warner was the initial chairman in 1963 and has seen the service project grow from six kids in 1963 to as many as 125, with 415 family members served total from not just Pampa, but the entire surrounding area (Lefors, McLean, Wheeler, Miami, etc.).

“I had a budget of $60, $10 per kid to buy for everyone in their household,” Warner said. “Now we want 60 kids with an $18,000 budget and $60 per family member.”

The project is also in need of volunteers, averaging about 200 volunteers the day of the project.

“Some of those are chaperones, a big majority of those come from the junior high or high school,” Taylor said. “Some of those are sponsors that go with the children and chaperone, some help with the coloring contest and serving food. There are a lot of different opportunities for volunteers.”

Volunteer applications are available or they can go online to www.cstpampa.com. Volunteers can contact Jana Snider at janasnider@gmail.com or call 806-802-9123.

While the project is spear-headed by Kiwanis Club, Tralee Crisis Center, Pampa Optimist Youth Club and Altrusa International of Pampa, it often involves the whole community.

“We have about 35 organizations each year that contribute volunteers, money or both,” Warner said. “They will help us with registration, wrapping, shopping, etc. The project has received awards from Optimist International (Outstanding Community Service Project) and Altrusa International (Outstanding Community Project in the world).”

Warner illustrated the impact of the project in a story from his own experience chaperoning a child.

“My wife and I took this young boy and he walked out of the Optimist Club (Judy and I were carrying presents) and he had both arms full of presents,” Warner said with his arms wide. “He looked up at me and said, ‘Mr. Warner, this is the happiest day of my life.’ That was the first time he had ever been able to give his family a present. It makes an impact on people.”

During the event, children get to take part in a coloring project, wrap presents for their families and receive Bibles at the end of the day.

For more information on the Children’s Shopping Tour, call AJ Taylor at 806-440-4240.

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