Some­thing for ev­ery­one

The Amherst News - - CUMBERLAND COUNTY - BY DAR­RELL COLE dar­[email protected]­st­news.ca Twit­ter: @ADN­dar­rell

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.

DAR­RELL COLE/AMHERST NEWS

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.

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