Anyone with hope of escaping the rain to do a little carefree shopping at Kmart last Thursday night, Dec. 15, were quickly greeted with the Spirit of Saint Nick. Oakdale Lions hosted the Annual Oakdale Lion’s Club Children’s Christmas Shopping Tour.
Yellow vests signifying Lion’s members could be found sprinkled through the store, as volunteers manned a check-in table for Chaperones arriving with their pint sized shoppers.
According to event coordinator Greg Rivera, a total of 220 children in need were toured through the store, each with a budget of $135 to spend.
“I think the most we’ve ever had is close to 300 a few years back,” Rivera said.
The coordinator shared the annual event has become well known, both with those in need as well as those wishing to contribute.
“They know where to come now,” Rivera stated. “We don’t even search anymore.”
He shared a story of a young man who recently paid a visit to his West F Street business, R & T Power Equipment, inquiring on how to be considered.
“He just relocated here from Oklahoma,” Rivera shared, noting that the young man and three siblings were living in a local hotel, while in between housing. “So we got them set up.”
Coordinating a shopping spree for 220 young people of varying ages, however, is no easy feat. E-mail has aided key volunteers tremendously, as they communicate with volunteers as well as recipients, no longer needing to spread the word or releases around town by foot.
“Kim Leverett is so organized,” Rivera said of his right hand woman in relation to the shopping tour. “She has spread sheets for everything. She takes care of the e-mails. She really helps us out and makes it all work.
“The beauty of it is it’s not just a Lion’s Club project,” he continued, “the whole community is helping out and getting their hands dirty.”
Rivera continued to share, there is no specific fundraiser earmarked for the annual event, instead they rely on donations via a solicitation letter that goes out the day after Thanksgiving.
“People come into the shop and hand me a check,” he said. “That just happened today. The guy said I know it’s too late, but I know you need it. We get it, we spend it. It’s nice to be trusted.”
Persons interested in making donations toward the 2017 Shopping Tour can send checks made payable to Oakdale Lion’s Club to PO Box 550, Oakdale, CA 95361.