Christmas comes early for 40 area students

Rita LeBleu

For 15 years, the Kiwanis Club of South Lake Charles has played the role of Santa to youngsters selected by school counselors. Club members don’t come down the chimney dressed in red. They give out the green.

On Thursday the Kiwanis Club members invited 40 youngsters to join them at Target. Each child was given a $100 budget and allowed to pick out whatever he or she wanted. Barbe Key Club members helped tally numbers for the families.

Tarrant Boone, 14, was a little shy about telling the American Press how he planned to spend his money.

“I don’t know what they have here,” he finally explained. “I’ve never been to Target.”

Joseph Amos III, 14, picked out a few things for his room, and still had money to spend.

His mother, Gardenia Amos, said she had never heard of anything like this: a club that gave out money and let the recipients choose what they wanted for Christmas.

“I’m happy for him because he deserves it,” Amos said. “He’s a great kid with a big heart who gets up in the morning, sweeps, mops and cleans without me having to mention it needs to be done.  

Bling caught the eye of 5-year-old Waldyenthz Velez Santiago. She made a beeline to a shimmering dress with her mother tailing closely behind. The mother slipped the dress over her daughter’s head for a quick try on, but became a bit reluctant to do the same when the next thing her daughter pointed to was the even “blingier” matching jacket. After some conversation, it too went into the red buggy. Waldyenthz’s sister, 7-year-old Waylanithz showed considerably practicality for her age selecting warm, comfortable, trending clothing and pajamas.

Both picked out a Barbie with accessories.

Valynncia Greenwood put a large pastel-colored, egg-shaped package into the buggy. When asked what she had chosen, she never uttered a word.  

The Kiwanis Club member didn’t know what it was either, assuming it was something to eat. The words “sweet shake” did appear on the package.

“She picked it out,” he said in his defense.

A quick online search revealed Valynncia had chosen six sweet-scented plush toys and 15 layers of sweet surprise: New Boo-Boo Sprinkle Corns, DIY Slime Mix, Sweet Shake Cup, Rainbocorn Stirrer, Food Accessories and Recipe Card to be able to make your own spectacular Sweet Shake.” As it turns out, the entire marketing scheme revolves around the fun of children discovering exactly what is inside these mystery packages.

When Annalyse Stockman was asked how long it would take her mother to earn $100, her first answer was 50,000 years. Her second guess, 25 days.

“Not quite that long,” her mother said with a smile.

Dwayne Williams came to Target with a plan to spend some of his $100 on his little brother. While he was shopping, he decided to pick something up for his mother too, even though he understood that he could spend all the money on himself.

The prize for the most enthusiastic, articulate, grateful and savvy shopper – if there were such a prize awarded and there wasn’t – would have gone to Jaydah Dupuis, a seventh grader from S. J. Welsh.

“I’m so happy,” Dupuis said. “I found acrylic paint for $1. This stuff usually costs a lot more, so I bought 11. I plan to make gifts to give my three cousins for Christmas. See these shoes? They were originally $34, but they were marked down to $11. They’ll go with these black skinny jeans.”

Dupuis also found some beauty products that were buy-three-get-one-free. Those went into the cart, plus press-on French nails for toes and fingers, and two winter shirts in neutral colors that could be worn with just about anything.

After an hour in the store, some of the children and families had lined up for checkout. Others were still taking it all in to determine they had seen everything available and gotten something they were pleased with. As for the Kiwanis Santas, most looked a bit tired, but pleased.

The Kiwanis Club of South Lake Charles has been helping the youth of the area one child at a time since 1975. To find out how to join, contact David Shamia, membership chairman at david@1sourcedigital.com or any member of the club.Max Mooney shows off one of the toys he selected Thursday during a Kiwanis Club of South Lake Charles-sponsored Christmas shopping spree for 40 area students.

Rita LeBleu

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