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Volunteers shop for local children during annual shopping tour

By Richard Rourk

More than 150 Unicoi County children are set to have a very merry Christmas thanks to the Kiwanis Club of Erwin.

According to Kiwanis Club of Erwin representative Bill Gaines, more than 100 volunteers from the Kiwanis Club of Erwin and the community at large came together on Saturday, Dec. 5, for the club’s Christmas Shopping Tour. The annual event benefits school-age children throughout Unicoi County.

“Volunteers bought presents for 160 children and then participated in a wrapping party,” Gaines said. “We wrapped the presents up at the (former Erwin Memorial Funeral Home) and that parking lot was full.”

Gaines confirmed that the Kiwanis Club of Erwin spent almost $20,000 to make the children’s Christmas wishes come true.

“This year we spent $17,850 at Walmart and $1,680 on gift cards for a total of $19,530,” Gaines said. “We only collected $14,845 this year, but we had some people step up. It’s been a hard year for individuals and businesses, too.”

According to Gaines, clothes were a needed item on children’s shopping lists.

“We had two bikes and toys, but clothing was the most popular request,” Gaines said. “Winter coats and boots and shoes were popular. This year we weren’t able to take children, but it was still so rewarding.”

Gaines is thankful for everyone who donated, whether it was time, money or both to make this year’s shopping spree a success.

“We have to give a huge thank you to everyone who came out to help,” Gaines said. “We also want to thank all who have donated; it’s been a rough year and we appreciate everyone that dug deep to help out.”

If you are interested in donating to next year’s drive, tax-deductible donations may be mailed to Erwin Kiwanis Foundation, P.O. Box 207, Erwin, TN 37650.