Chil­dren re­ceive free gifts for par­ents

Tillsonburg News - - FRONT PAGE - Chris Ab­bott

The fourth an­nual Talk Till­son­burg Chil­dren Shop for Christ­mas gift-giv­ing event may have been the best yet.

Fun for both the chil­dren who vis­ited Up­per Deck Satur­day be­tween 10-4 seek­ing a free present to give to their par­ents, and the youth who vol­un­teered to help them find those presents, as well as man­ning the gift bas­ket draw ta­ble.

The best part, for those who helped wrap presents, was see­ing the chil­dren.

“See­ing how happy the kids are when they pick out a present that they like for their par­ents,” said Emily Chris­ti­aens.

It was busy Satur­day morn­ing as soon as they opened the doors.

“Right at 10 a.m.,” said Jil­lian McPher­son.

Four hours later the ev­i­dence was pil­ing up un­der their giftwrap­ping ta­bles, and by the end of the day 160 chil­dren had picked out a present for their mom and dad - and most of them wrapped by the Dan­scene and friends of Talk Till­son­burg vol­un­teers.

The hard­est gift to wrap? “The cir­cu­lar ones,” said Brook­lyn Le­Clair.

“The cylin­ders,” nod­ded Brooke San­der­son.

“Like that thing,” said McPher­son.

“Like the wa­ter bot­tles,” said Emily Chris­ti­aens.

“Those were so hard,” Kennedy Elku.

“Kennedy, you bagged ev­ery­thing,” Chris­ti­aens noted. “Hey! No!” Elku laughed. The num­ber of ‘shop­pers’ Satur­day sur­prised the young vol­un­teers, who have been help­ing at Chil­dren Shop for Christ­mas for two, three and in most cases four years. Prior to Satur­day, the most chil­dren they saw in the last three years was 90, but that had de­clined to 30-40 last year.

“Sur­prised com­pared to last year,” nod­ded Brook­lyn Kints.

“We are out of (gift) bags,” McPher­son said to or­ga­nizer Cathy Ryan dur­ing a break in wrap­ping. “Again?” Ryan smiled. They still had presents on both gift ta­bles, which was a re­lief for Ryan who at 10:30 that morn­ing had pan­icked won­der­ing if they would have enough af­ter 30 chil­dren vis­ited in the first 30 min­utes. The women’s gift ta­ble was still well stocked, she said, but men’s gifts had thinned out.

“Women were fine, but i was pan­icked about the men’s ta­ble. but we’re still good.

“i had to make a quick run over to the mall ear­lier to­day be­cause we ran out of gift bags... and now we’re out of gift bags again.”

ryan re­called one boy who picked out a present, but asked if he could wrap it him­self when he got home.

“he’s ac­tu­ally my neigh­bour. i said, ‘okay, but you have to hide it from your mom.’ so he did - he had his coat all wrapped around it car­ry­ing it out.”

other than that one gift, she said the youth vol­un­teers had been wrap­ping all day.

“some­times we had great big line­ups - you couldn’t even get near any of the ta­bles. as you can see, they’ve been work­ing hard. They have been amaz­ing. some have been here all four years and some are just start­ing.

“i’m thrilled. it’s been an ab­so­lutely fun, amaz­ing day,” added ryan, who ear­lier had hoped to get 125 chil­dren. “a lot of food, a lot of treats. We were re­ally low last year, but i opened it up to all kids this year and that makes a big dif­fer­ence. i like that it’s re­ally busy.”

ryan said they al­ready started mak­ing plans for the 5th an­nual Chil­dren shop for Christ­mas in 2019 - in­clud­ing chang­ing the event hours from 10-4 to 10-2.

“We’ve been talk­ing about it try­ing to de­cide if we should shorten it.”

santa Claus, who ar­rived af­ter 12:30, was un­able to visit the chil­dren who came in the morn­ing. next year, ryan said she would en­cour­age santa to be there at 10.

“Four hours will fly by,” said ryan. “if we go six hours there’s a bit of a lull and the kids get bored.”

do­na­tions for the gift ta­ble con­tin­ued to come in Fri­day night and satur­day morn­ing, as well as cash do­na­tions. in to­tal, ryan said 10 lo­cal busi­nesses gen­er­ously con­trib­uted to the event.

“Tran­quil­ity, they were fab­u­lous,” said ryan. “They said, ‘i love what you do and it’s free.’”

Chris ab­bott/TILL­SON­BURG NEWS

Vol­un­teers at the 4th an­nual Chil­dren Shop for Christ­mas Satur­day at the Up­per Deck in Till­son­burg in­cluded (back row) Emily Chris­ti­aens, Kennedy Elku, Brook­lyn Kints, Brooke San­der­son, Jil­lian McPher­son, Brook­lyn Le­Clair, Genevieve Jamieson, Cyn­thia Kirby, Pey­ton Har­ris, (front row) Ad­di­son LeBouthillier, Abi­gail Sarafinchin, Haylie Ketch­abaw, Mikayla Kowal­ski, Ad­disyn Down, Jor­dan Pot­tel­berg, and An­gel­ica Jamieson.

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