A couple Fridays ago, the Arts & Smarts Junior Leaders (participants in grades 5-8) went on a grand shopping spree. However, they didn’t spend a single dollar on themselves. They had written a successful grant application to the Youth Resources Make a Difference program and had money to spend to stock the Christmas Store which will be held during our annual Arts & Smarts Christmas Party.
As they wandered the aisles of several discount stores, they asked themselves, “What would dads want? Grandmas? Older sisters? Baby brothers?” When they found an item that they thought met their criteria, they tossed it into their shopping cart.
Some categories were easy. For instance, there were many aisles of fun kids’ games, and the kids could draw from their own experience to guess what a friend or someone a little older or younger might like. Moms and dads were a little tougher. What do moms like, anyway? Chocolate is always a safe bet.
“How about this hairbrush?” one girl asked, “My mom has one like it.”
“Well, yes, but let’s try to find something fancier,” one adult in her shopping group responded.
Each group had to keep track of their purchases so they could stay within their budget. Normally Patchwork is a no cell phone zone, but on this day several kids had their cell phones out and at the ready, recording each purchase and tracking their total. It was serious work to make sure everything came out just right so we could get as many good gifts as possible without going over budget.
This week, our Arts & Smarts staff will arrange all the gifts so they’re ready for the younger participants to “shop” in the Christmas Store on Thursday. The younger participants have earned tickets with their participation in the program over the semester. Each ticket will be traded for a gift for a family member. A team of adult volunteers and Junior Leaders will act as personal shoppers to assist the younger participants as they make their selections.
Again, no one will be shopping for themselves, and that’s OK. If anything, shopping for others increases everyone’s enthusiasm. It feels really good to give gifts to the people you love, but when you’re a kid the opportunities to find gifts to give are limited.
The Christmas Store will be part of a warm and wonderful afternoon. In addition, we’ll have quick art projects, fun party food, and caroling at the piano. Then our Arts & Smarts program will be on break until Tuesday, January 7.