Lexington Christian Academy students shop to help Angel Tree kids

mmeehan1@herald-leader.comNovember 29, 2012 

  • HOW TO HELP

    Salvation Army Angel Tree

  • When: Cards with children's names are available through Dec. 9, which is also the deadline for gift drop-off.

    Where: Locations at Fayette Mall, near Dillard's; Whitaker Bank locations in Lexington and Georgetown; Glenn Nissan and Hyundai.

    How it works: Pick a child's name, then purchase a gift using the child's information as a guide, and return it unwrapped giftto any Angel Tree location or the Salvation Army Christmas Center, 1030 S. Broadway, by Dec. 9. You can also buy a gift card at area Kroger stores to provide a Christmas meal for participants.

    Volunteers needed: To volunteer at the Fayette Mall Angel Tree display for a two-hour shift, contact Cheryl Dance, (859) 273-7077 or cdance49@yahoo.com. To help organize Angel Tree packages at the Christmas Center, contact Amanda Lewis, (859) 252-7706 Ext. 119, or amanda.c.lewis@use.salvationarmy.org.

    Learn more: Bit.ly/Qq5Qbs

There was a miniature, mid-week rush at the Target store in Lexington's Hamburg Pavilion shopping area on Thursday.

It was miniature both in that it involved dozens, not thousands, of shoppers and in that the shoppers in question were mostly pint-size.

Students from Lexington Christian Academy prowled the aisles — mostly notably the toy department — in search of the perfect Christmas gift to give, not get.

A total of 333 children from the private school were at Target, Wal-Mart and Meijer, picking out gifts for 354 kids whose names were picked from the Salvation Army Angel Tree.

Academy assistant principal James Jaeger said the children were first asked to raise money themselves to pay for the gifts. Later, the Glenn Nissan auto dealership offered to match the money up to $50 a child.

"It's been nice to see them thinking of a gift for others, not for themselves, especially around this time of year," he said.

One boy, Pike Hart, 10, had to stretch a little to pick out his gift for a little girl. But in the end, he said, he went with what he thought was a fool-proof plan: buying something sparkly and pink (a velour hoodie with a rhinestone heart).

Ireland Owens, Day-Glo laces stretched through her glittery sneakers, gently shifted each box in the doll aisle looking for the perfect gift for a 9-year-old girl, one of her two charges. She had raised money by doing extra chores, helping her grandmother cook and dog-sitting for an aunt. Deciding to buy a doll was easy, she said: "I just thought about what I would like to have."

It took just minutes for Ireland to pick out an 18-inch blonde doll wearing a funky faux-fur vest and flirty skirt; this being a Christmas present, the toy was appropriately named Holly. Ireland grinned widely after finding a bargain acoustic guitar ($29.99) that had been requested by her other child, an 8-year-old boy.

From there, Ireland and her mom, Rhiannon, went through the clothing section, picking out two outfits that went together but weren't matchy-matchy per Ireland's taste. In the end, the cart was filled and Ireland said she was happy knowing that the two kids would have something to open Christmas Day.

Reese Lycan, 9, was shopping for three children. She had held several yard sales to raise money to buy the gifts. Reese said she sold off her "childhood toys" to help others. She also learned that if you don't finish a job, such as raking leaves, you don't get paid. But in her defense, she said she has a really big yard.

For her, the shopping trip was a chance to share the blessings in her own life.

Jaeger, the assistant principal, said this is the first time the school has tried the program, but it might not be the last.

"The Lord has opened big doors with this," he said. "We are going to keep walking through."

Mary Meehan: (859) 231-3261. Twitter: @bgmoms. Blog: BluegrassMoms.com.

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