Coalition for Kids, the nonprofit faith-based organization that provides free after-school, evening and summer programming for Johnson City school children in need, is preparing for its annual Shopping for Others excursion.
Designed for “the poorest of the poor” in the Coalition for Kids program, Shopping for Others is only for children who are not included in the Salvation Army Angel Tree gift distribution or other charitable Christmas projects.
“These are all children who are not on anybody else’s list, not the Salvation Amy, not their schools. We all work together to share the need and these are kids with real need,” CFK Executive Director Randy Hensley said.
Planned this year for Friday night, Dec. 14, at the Walmart store on Browns Mill Road, the project’s goal is to provide each of the children with $100 and an adult shopping assistant to help them select a new outfit of clothing, shoes, a coat if they need one, a toy or two, and a gift for someone else in their family.
Last year, 87 children went Shopping for Others and this year the coalition has 115 children they hope to take along. “We have more kids than we’ve ever had, well over 100 that we hope to get Christmas for,” Hensley said. “Some companies are stepping up with coats and scarves. We have about 25 or 30 percent of them sponsored, and we still lack quiet a few to get that finished.”
Everyone who sponsors a child for Shopping for Others is invited to go along to shop with the children. And of all the events the coalition hosts each year, volunteers list Shopping for Others among the most fun.
In addition to ensuring the children get the things they need, the project is designed to allow children who have never been able to shop for someone they love to have that experience. The children often surprise the volunteers with their ability to shop the sales and with how carefully they deliberate their gifts for their loved ones.
“We know how tough the last few years have been for nonprofits and families in a flux with unemployment and funds, but this project is more than giving,” Hensley said.
“This one is special. This one puts a sense of hope in a child that only comes once a year for a child that hasn’t ever experienced giving to get that.”
While the goal is to provide each child with $100 to shop with, sponsorships and donations of any amount are welcome.
For more information about how to support the project, visit coalitionforkids.org or call Amanda Beattie at 434-2031 or email Amanda@coalitionforkids.org.
More about Shopping for Others, including a project photo album, can also be found at the Coalition for Kids Facebook page.
Donations may be made at the website or by mail to Coalition for Kids, P.O. Box 3156, Johnson City, TN 37601.