Generosity from others helps children shop for others

The Wal-Mart store in Chillicothe was a busy place Saturday morning.
With Christmas lists in hand, 30 children set out to get everything on their lists. They weren’t concerned about getting something for themselves. But, rather, they were on a mission to buy gifts to give their parents and siblings.
The shopping event was a coordinated effort among Wal-Mart, the Chillicothe Kiwanis Club, and the Chillicothe Police Department. The Kiwanis Club had applied and was approved for a grant from Wal-Mart to provide funds to children in the community whose families could benefit from an extra boost this Christmas. The event also gave children the opportunity to shop and experience the joy of giving gifts to loved ones.
Upon arrival, the children were paired up with either a police officer or a Kiwanian to assist them with their shopping venture.
The first area where Nick Hessenflow led police officer Jared Bramer was an aisle filled with lots of pink. Nick was selecting a gift for his sister. He slowly walked the entire aisle with Bramer before the two paused at the right location. Nick squatted down and shuffled through a number of items on the shelves before finding the gift and placing it in the cart.
There were 30 children who shopped Saturday, with another child scheduled to shop today (Monday). There were 25 volunteers from the Kiwanis Club and police department, and one was from the school system. Wal-Mart donated wrapping paper, and five Wal-Mart employees gave their time to wrap the gifts.
Lillyanna Bowers, 8, knew exactly what she wanted to buy for her siblings, Dakota Bowers, 12, and Destini Souders, 6, and mother, Heather Souders. After checking in with the coordinator, Lillyanna quickly led her Kiwanian assistant, John Cook, and his cart to the aisle where she knew she could fill her list. She soon returned to get the gifts wrapped.
Her mother was in an adjoining room, unaware of what surprises her daughter had selected. Now is a particularly difficult time for the family, she said. Lillyanna’s father, Everett Souders, died two weeks ago. He was at home when he died, and was buried just last week.
The Kiwanis children’s Christmas shopping program has been going on for several years and is one of many ways the club serves children of the community, said Alice Swartz, Kiwanis Club board member and past president.
“A lot of the children would have no Christmas if we didn’t have this program,” Swartz said. “The child feels they can do something for their family.”
She told about a child who didn’t want his parents to know he was going with the Kiwanis, because he wanted to surprise his mother with a gift.
“Of course, we have to have the parent’s permission before we can take them shopping, but the idea of what that child wanted to do for the mother was wonderful,” Swartz said. “Being able to take presents home and put under their tree just makes them full of joy.”
A volunteer needs only to be there once to understand the impact that shopping with a child has on the volunteers.
“This is what Christmas is all about,” Swartz said. “If you ever help with the project you will know why everyone is ready to assist these children. It is the smiles on their faces, the warmth from their hearts and how much they appreciate it. When you see them buy for everyone in their families and not for themselves, or when a small child tells you to take the left over money they didn’t spend and buy food for someone who needs it, it just melts your heart.”
She said the children are to buy for themselves and their families, but noted that many will not buy for themselves. Whatever funds are not used will be used to buy food and given to local organizations.