Children shop for Christmas

Chris, 12, examined a Batman action figure at K-mart on Tuesday and decided to get it for his 6-year-old brother as a Christmas gift.

"He likes Batman," Chris said.

Chris was one of 52 middle school students in the Children in Transition program who were treated to a pizza lunch at Little Caesar's Pizza in K-mart and given $25 cash cards to shop with.

Like many of the other children, Chris first shopped for others before deciding what he wanted for himself.

"I'm going to get my family presents," he said. "They're special to me and it's the time of giving."

Kyle, 12, agreed with him.

"It's better to give than to receive," Kyle said as he chose which G.I. Joe toy to buy for his brother.

Children in transition are defined as those living in motels, hotels, campgrounds or families doubling up. Kim Riggs, director of the program, said there are many toy drives around Christmas for the small children, but middle and high school students can often be forgotten.

Karson Kruzers and Kmart have sponsored the shopping spree for three years to help the older less-fortunate students. Kmart sponsors the pizza party and gives each child $5. Karson Kruzers gives each child $20 to spend.

"So far, it's worked great," said Jack Andersen, president of Karson Kruzers. "The kids are nice and they really appreciate it."

Adult volunteers take a group of two to four children around the store to help them make their purchases.

Andersen told of one boy last year who asked if he could buy a pair of tennis shoes. He was elated to learn that he could buy the new shoes - his first new pair ever.

"It makes it all worthwhile when you see something like that," Andersen said.

MaryEllen Radtke serves as an adult volunteer to help the children shop.

She said one boy bought a porcelain doll for his grandmother, who had always wanted one.

"She had always done nice things for him so he wanted to do something nice for her," Radtke said. "The Christmas spirit is out there."

Tammy, 14, was impressed with the party and shopping spree.

"It's cool," she said. "I've never gotten anything like this before."

She said she would probably buy some CDs with the money.

There were other benefits as well.

"We got to get out of school," said Heather, 11.

K-mart and the Karson Kruzers also gave 19 high school students $25 cash cards and JJ's Ear Candy donated gift certificates.


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