Something for everyone
Christmas is always a magical time and the spirit of giving is now available to the youngest people in the community.
A Children’s Christmas Shopping Party is being planned for children ages six and younger from Dec. 13 to 16 at the Amherst Centre Mall’s Amherst Artisans Gallery and Market.
It’s the brainchild of Holly Martin, who figures children would love to surprise their siblings, parents and grandparents with a gift on Christmas morning but may not have the cash to make it happen.
“I was in Tatamagouche last year and I saw a lot of children lined up outside the library. I was curious as to what was going on so I decided to go over and see,” Martin said. “The parents were telling me that every year at Christmas people donate items that the children get to pick out as gifts for their parents. I thought if a little village like Tatamagouche could do it, why couldn’t we do it in Amherst?”
Martin contacted representatives from the artisans gallery and pitched the idea of hosting a similar shopping party for children in the Amherst area. John Warner said it didn’t take long to decide.
“I don’t even think it took us five minutes,” Warner said. “This is something that will be great for the children, the community and even the gallery. It was an easy decision for us and since then it has been Holly that has approached the Department of Community Services, businesses and the schools.”
Since then, people have been bringing new and gently-used items to the market, which has been storing them in preparation for the four-day event.
Parents will be asked to fill out a piece of paper with the child’s name and who he or she is buying gifts for. For $1.50, each child will be guided by Santa’s elves in picking out six gifts for their family members for 25 cents each. Elves, members of the ARHS Vikettes basketball team and other community volunteers from the gallery, the Amherst 50+ Club and the Department of Community Services, will help wrap gifts children can put under the tree.
The community’s response has been above expectations.
“We put out the call for donations and the response was tremendous,” Martin said. “So far we have received several thousand donations and there’s more coming in every day. We’ve had items come from local businesses and the general public and the Amherst 50+ Club voted to provide $200 worth of items.”
Warner said there will be seven tables set up in the room with each table designated with gifts for brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers and grandparents. As gifts are chosen, the tables will be restocked.
“We’ll only have so many children in at one time and they’ll do their shopping and go out and get their presents wrapped,” Warner said.
Janie Oickle said it means a lot to the children to be able to buy presents without having to get their mother or father do it for them.
“What I’m hearing from other places that have done something similar to this is the kids are extremely proud when they come out with their parcels. It’s a big thing for them to be able to buy something for their parents,” Oickle said.
Santa Claus will be at the gallery on the 15th and musician Peter Frenette will perform Christmas music. The shopping party runs from 1 to 7 p.m. on the 13th and 14th, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on the 15th and noon to 4 p.m. on the 16th.
Proceeds from the event will be provided to Autumn House.
“We’ll go out and buy some items the women at the centre may need. I spoke to the workers there and they said when women come into the centre they have nothing so we’re looking to provide things like personal hygiene products, a pair of slippers socks and pyjamas,” said Martin.
She’s hoping the party is successful with the possibility it could expand next year to children ages eight and younger.
Organizers are appreciative of the Amherst Centre Mall for supporting the project and providing the space to store the gifts.
The artisans gallery will also host a Christmas celebration on Dec. 15 with music by Jerry Metz and Lost Highway. There will also be dinner at the gallery and market’s café.
John Warner, Holly Martin, centre, and Janie Oickle look over some of the items that have been donated for the first Children’s Christmas Shopping Party at the Amherst Centre Mall’s Artisans Gallery and Market. The shopping party, for children ages six and younger, will be held Dec. 13 to 16.