Most parents would like Santa Claus to deliver whatever is on their children’s list. Jasmine Miller, a single mother of five, certainly would. This year she received a little help.
“I really feel like it took the pressure off,” she said as one of her children put the last item in the red buggy of toys she wouldn’t have to pay for.
Every year since 1980, the Kiwanis Club of South Lake Charles has played Santa Claus to local children. Over the past seventeen years, the group has ensured that 40 youth from Prien Lake, SJ Welsh, FK White, St. John, AA Nelson and Brentwood schools celebrate Christmas a little earlier and much happier. The advisers select the students. In previous years, students received a meal from McDonald’s before the shopping spree that gave them $ 100 to spend. The target reduces purchases by 10 percent. This year, no McDonald’s. However, the amount to spend has increased to $ 125. Members of the Barbe High School Key Club and / or a Kiwanis Club member store with the youth, adding purchases as you go. Some of the elementary school kids have no idea exactly how much they can get for $ 100.
Elizabeth Soileau returns an expensive item when she finds out she only has a few more dollars to spend on something and picks up a toy called Upside Down Glasses, giggling as she urges her parents to look at them. She asks for the price and seems satisfied with her father’s response.
“It’s not something that I would want,” said his mother Julia Morales, “but I’m not 8 years old.”
Not all of the choices are items familiar to Kiwanis members, but as long as that’s what the kid wants and the total price hits the $ 125 limit, no problem.
Charles Jackson is a grandfather who lives in a multigenerational household. He goes shopping with his granddaughter and tries to browse the store naming the items he might want, shoes, something for his room maybe…
“I wish there was something like this for my family when I was growing up,” Jackson said. It is truly amazing, something that every kid dreams of happening.
Makayla, “Monkey” Tharp and his brother, Layton, made a list ahead of time. On Monkey’s list are LED lights, skates, shoes, a movie and “maybe a cute bag,” the 11-year-old said. She tries on her first pair of shoes, looks at the price, and asks her mom if she’s buying them.
“The money, every $ 125, is all yours to spend,” said her mother Ashley Thibodeaux. ” You have the choice. “
Braylon Ivey’s grandmother is grateful for the party, but is reluctant to let her grandson get some items.
“If I step on it, it disappears,” she warns when he picks up something small that could cause pain in a bare foot.
“It won’t happen,” he assured her with a wide, toothy smile.
She seems skeptical and buyers move on.
Sebastian Bricknac was the most rambunctious about the shopping spree, especially excited about his Pokemon Eevee and Pikachu plush toys, which he couldn’t stop playing with.
Kiwanis member Dean Roberts and his wife Brooke seem to be enjoying themselves except for repeated price checks. Many items were not labeled.
“Our kids are a little older,” Brooke said, and a little harder to buy. It’s usually a few freebies and it’s mostly money for them. I guess these younger kids also like to pick things out for themselves. They have a blast doing it.
Long-time member of the Kiwanis Club of South Lake Charles, Tim Wood, hosts the event and makes sure it runs smoothly every year. We’ve been doing something like this every Christmas since 1980, ”he said,“ and it never gets old to see the joy on the faces of these children. “