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From the Publisher’s Desk – Shopping for right reason helps

By Keith Whitson

Black Friday is now “old” news. This year we discovered “Tarnished Thursday.” It seems stores gave us just enough time to rush through our Thanksgiving meals, say a brief prayer and run out the door for the sales. Those who prayed long enough to name a few items for which they are thankful, missed out on the Doorbuster Deals. A second helping or time with family meant you were cutting your chances slim of finding a parking space.

I am finding it hard to get into the seasonal demands this year. The thought of dragging out the decorations seems like a daunting chore. Facing the stores and the shoppers is another challenge.

However, each Christmas has held its own special moment, gift, family time and memory. But, the anticipation as a child is something that is hard to duplicate as an adult.

It seemed that Christmas would never get here when I was younger. The clock seemed to drag as I eagerly paced around the festively wrapped boxes. Now, for some reason, the older I get, the faster December 25th rolls around.

But the fact is clear, Christmas holds a special excitement for children. Many of us are blessed with more than we need but others, right here in our county, struggle with the daily expenses of life. The burden of not disappointing a child weighs heavily on many parents.

For this reason, many rely on the Erwin Kiwanis Club’s Annual Christmas  Shopping Tour. I think this is one of the most amazing acts of giving in our area.

For approximately 200 local children, the Erwin Kiwanis Club makes dreams come true. The tradition started back in the mid 1960s with the Erwin Jaycees. When they surrendered their charter as a club, the Kiwanians took over the Christmas event to keep it alive.

Depending on the resources available, the club takes around 200 children to the local Walmart. That number has gone up each year and is 30 more than last Christmas. The need continues to rise.

With approximately $100 per child, volunteers help them buy Christmas presents. Not only do they help find the perfect toy, but they also make sure the children are suited up with clothes, shoes and coats.

But they don’t stop there. The club also comes up with $30 each for approximately 50 Headstart children.

How do they do it? Well it takes a little more than Santa to pull off an event this big. Often there are even more volunteers to help than there are children. However, this year volunteers are needed. Volunteers don’t go unrewarded. Getting to seeing how much joy can be experienced from fulfilling the dreams of a child, is a gift in itself for anyone volunteering.

Through generous financial support from local businesses, industries and individuals, the event has continued to be a success. However, this year, due to  the difficult economic times we are in, it will be a challenge to raise the necessary funds.  I would like to ask that you do what you can, and encourage others, including your friends and/or employees to donate to this project with both time and money.

For many of these children, it is not only a chance to experience Christmas with a toy, like the other kids around them, but is a chance to get much needed clothing. It is the chance to get a winter coat before it gets colder as well as new shoes. Please help support this project with an amount, whether great or small. It all counts to make a difference in the life of a needy child.

I am proud to be a member of the Erwin Kiwanis Club and help support the efforts and needs of Unicoi County. I have grown up with fond memories of Christmas and gifts that far exceeded my needs.

For me, this year, Christmas will be seeing the sparkle in the eyes of a child that might otherwise go without.

Donations can be mailed to Kiwanis Club of Erwin, P.O. Box 207, Erwin, TN 37650. Your support will be very much appreciated. The Foundation is a 501-C-3 corporation, so your contribution is tax deductible.

This year’s Shopping Tour will be held on Saturday, Dec. 3. The club is also seeking individuals to assist the children as they shop. Anyone wishing to volunteer to shop, please arrive at the Unicoi Walmart at 7:30 a.m. on Dec. 3 to register. For more information, contact event chairman Bill Gaines at 341-3022.