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Community Generosity Bursts Into Local Kmart
Elves Off The Shelves
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Five- and 6-year-old sisters were all grins with their Lions Club Shopping Spree chaperone, Laura Billings, on Thursday night, Dec. 17 at Kmart. Each year the Lions Club takes a group of underprivileged children for new clothes and shoes, thanks to donations throughout the year. Kim Van Meter/The Leader

Santa’s elves were out in full force on Thursday evening and were spotted on the east end of town at Oakdale’s Kmart store.

While one might have been hard pressed to find the traditional elf garb of tights and pointy ears, a handful of festive hats could be spotted as several dozen chaperones landed at the retailer complete with a total of 238 children prepared to shop.

The occasion was one which has become tradition for many Oakdale families as the Oakdale Lions Club hosted its Annual Oakdale Lion’s Club Children’s Christmas Shopping Tour. The event began with shopping as early as 5 p.m. and then progressed to the Oakdale Sportsman’s Club where the children were treated to pizza, treats and a visit with the one and only Santa Claus.

“We had a hard time finding chaperones this year,” Oakdale Lion Don Allen said, “so we had a little less than past years. We’ve had as many as 270 (children) in the past and that just about maxes out Kmart.”

According to Allen, volunteer Kim Leverett begins the search for chaperones around early November.

“She’s the one who matches the chaperones with the children,” he said. “We couldn’t do it without her. Oh and the Rummy girls. They are a tremendous help to her and us.”

Each child was given a budget of $125 to spend toward necessities such as clothing, coats, shoes and foundation items. Toys and miscellaneous items are not a part of the shopping tour.

“We send out letters to business and community members specific to this event,” Allen said, “and we ask that they donate $100. Some give more. We also let them know it all goes to the shopping tour.”

The Oakdale Lions Club member noted on numerous occasions he has spotted chaperones throwing in their own money to offset any overages if they’ve misjudged the total prior to check out.

“The people in Oakdale are just so generous,” he said. “A lot of them go over (the $125 budget) and they pay for it themselves. We certainly don’t expect that, but it’s wonderful to see.”

Allen also noted the club’s appreciation to the management and sales team of Kmart, acknowledging the gravity this event can have on their everyday business during their busiest time of the year.

“It went very, very smoothly this year,” he stated. “Probably the best year yet. It would be wrong it we didn’t thank the management and staff of Kmart for all they did for our chaperones and the kids.”

Allen said persons interested in future chaperone or donation opportunities may get more information by contacting fellow Lion Greg Rivera at R & T Power Equipment, 847-3252.