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Rotarians help kids buy gifts for families

Karl Horeis

With the help of the Carson City Noon Rotary club, 25 underprivileged children were able to buy Christmas gifts for their families on Saturday. The Rotarians had a little something stashed away for the young shoppers, too.

“This is just a way to make the holidays brighter for a family that otherwise might not be able to have a nice Christmas,” said event organizer and Rotary club board member Bill Kirby.

The children were paired with a Rotarian in the Carson Middle School library Saturday morning. Each child’s family had signed up for holiday help at the Friends In Service Helping office on Long Street.

With their Rotarian as a guide, the youngsters shopped at either Target or Wal-Mart.

A 9-year-old shopper with blonde hair in pig tails was getting gifts for her three little brothers. For one she picked out the Electronic Hulk Hand boxing gloves with “smash ‘n’ bash sound effects.”

Rotarian Mary Pierczynski’s shopper had spent quite a bit of time examining different games for the Nintendo GameBoy.

“Now we’re going to stop by Best Buy and take a quick look at the games they have,” she smiled.

After they had a gift for each family member on their list, many went to lunch before returning to the school to wrap their gifts.

“We kind of make a day of it,” said Linda Mackey, wife of Rotarian Bruce Mackey. “We kind of shop a little bit, party a little bit.”

Some went to Subway, others to Burger King.

“I’ll take her wherever she wants to go,” said Rotarian Joe Lushina. “Adele’s or McDonald’s.”

Several groups stopped by the Nevada State Railroad Museum to ride the Santa Train.

Although the children were told they were shopping only for other people – not themselves – their Rotarian figured out what they wanted for Christmas and passed the order on to a “secret shopper.” Those folks, other club members hiding in the store, purchased the item and raced back to the middle school to wrap it before the child returned.

“That way when they come back there’s a present waiting for them as well,” said Linda Mackey.

Sometimes it’s a race to get the “gift from Santa” wrapped before the little shoppers return.

“There’s some frantic wrapping going on in the gym,” she said.

Carson Noon Rotary has been doing the holiday shopping trips since 1983, when the idea was put forth by member Al Christianson. He had seen a similar project done by the Jaycees (junior chamber of commerce) club he belonged to in Wisconsin.

Christianson acted as a secret shopper this year.

With each of the 25 children spending about $120, Kirby estimated the club spent about $2,700.

It’s something club members feel good about.

“I think it’s a wonderful idea,” said Petar Sardelich who joined Noon Rotary in June. “Anything you can do for kids is wonderful.”

Contact Karl Horeis at khoreis@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1219.