Set for the evening of Dec. 12, the popular holiday shopping excursion will provide up to 200 of Johnson City’s neediest children a chance to experience the joy of giving to others at Christmas while meeting their needs for essential warm winter clothing.
For the hundreds of adult volunteers and child sponsors who take part in the project, Coalition for Kids Executive Director Randy Hensley said, Shopping for Others provides a chance to witness “the true value of giving.”
“I’ve always said, ‘we are most like God when we are giving generously. God gave His Son to us to live, to die, because of love. What generosity. And each year we have this shopping opportunity because of that love.”
Each year, Hensley said. “We hear the same stories. One volunteer said, ‘You aren’t going to believe this. The child I shopped with wanted to buy me a gift.’ Another volunteer told us, ‘I got involved because I wanted to bless the children, but honestly, I received so much more than I gave. It was a blessing to be involved.”
How it works
Now in its 12th year, the annual Christmas shopping outing serves only children who are not included in any other holiday gift-giving program.
With individual sponsorships from the community, each child receives $100 to spend on essentials, including a warm winter coat, shoes, at least one outfit of clothing, a toy or gift for themselves and a gift for someone they love. Last year, 154 of the coalition’s neediest children went shopping. This year’s goal is to include 200 children.
A small army of adult volunteers is recruited to help the children make their selections. And on the evening of the Shopping for Others outing, they all meet for a kid-friendly dinner and a most festive shopping tour hosted annually by the Super Walmart store on Browns Mill Road.
Cindy Young, director of community outreach for the coalition, calls it a fun and creative way to ensure the children get the things they need at Christmas and to allow them to experience the blessing of giving to others.
For those who would like help, donations of any amount or a $100 sponsorship to meet the entire cost of a Shopping for Others trip for one child may be made online at coalitionforkids.org, at the Coalition for Kids community center at 2423 Susannah St., or by mail to Coalition for Kids, P.O. Box 3156, Johnson City, TN 37602.
Those who wish to experience Shopping for Others for themselves may download a volunteer application form the website and return it to coalition before Dec. 5, by email to [email protected], by fax to 423-434-9998, or by mail to P.O. Box 3156, Johnson City, TN 37602. More information about the project may be obtained by calling Young at 423-434-2031 ext. 806.
If there is a need or a project in your neighborhood the Good Neighbor column can assist with, contact Sue Guinn Legg at 423-722-0538, [email protected] or P.O. Box 1717, Johnson City, TN 37605.