Happening now: Holiday Shopping Spree for almost 100 students, courtesy of West Seattle Rotary Club and friends

The first students have crossed the bridge and arrived at Sears SODO for the biggest event the Rotary Club of West Seattle organizes every year, the Children’s Holiday Shopping Spree. They’re coming here from five elementary schools in West Seattle – 96 kids [updated number], greeted by a corps of volunteers more than double that size:

A little breezy this morning! Inside, volunteers of all ages – from high-school students to retirees – have already been busy in the pre-dawn hours, getting ready:

The tasks range from assembling bags for the kids – who are from Arbor Heights, Highland Park, Sanislo, Schmitz Park, and West Seattle Elementaries – to keeping track of the volunteers:

They’re not just West Seattle Rotarians, but also Panhellenic sorority and fraternity members, as well as the aforementioned students, including University of Washington Rotaract members and Mercer Island High School Interact members. They’ve all just heard the morning’s order of events from West Seattle Rotary president Andy Horner:

He noted this has been growing since 1972, when the West Seattle Rotary held the first shopping spree … for nine students. With him in that photo, at left, is Martha Sidlo, who organized this year’s shopping spree. Next up – volunteers are paired with kids, for breakfast, followed by shopping – $100 gift cards, to be used to purchase essentials (with a 10 percent discount) – Santa photos, and lunch.

ADDED 8:14 AM: Before shopping, there’s the waiting …

Then the smiling (with Rotarian Josh Sutton):

The shoe-fitting:

The coat-choosing (with Rotarian Dr. Susanne Gee):

And inside Sears, the shopping (that’s Anissa the Elf, offering a greeting)

ADDED 11:48 AM: Santa listened to many wishes, and posed for many photos, but this scene said it all:

To make this happen, it takes many donors and sponsors – they had big thanks, for example, for their baked-goods donors The Essential Baking Company and Macrina Bakery, as well as for SODO Kitchen, the venue in the Sears/Starbucks building where everyone gathered – and you can donate too: A link to the Shopping Spree fund is on the Rotary home page.

P.S. Some extra info from WS Rotary president Andy: 256 was the final volunteer count – 35 Rotarians, 221 non-Rotarians. Four drivers from First Student transported the kids – Chuck, Robert, David, Jim. The schools each had coordinators – including Arbor Heights principal Christy Collins, Pam Rago from Highland Park, Nina Bowman from Sanislo, Jennifer Toth from Highland Park, and Tracie Thompson from West Seattle Elementary.

9 Replies to "Happening now: Holiday Shopping Spree for almost 100 students, courtesy of West Seattle Rotary Club and friends"

  • AH mom December 1, 2012 (10:00 am)

    Thank you Rotary Club for including Arbor Heights Elementary students. Makes you realize how much we have to be thankful for and that one of the best gifts during this holiday season is the gift of “GIVING.”

  • Use Common Sense December 1, 2012 (10:33 am)

    Strongly agree AH mom.

    What a great story…….

  • awesome December 1, 2012 (11:35 am)

    Good job very impressive Rotary. Let’s all follow in their footsteps. It’s a very hard time for many.

  • Teri Ensley December 1, 2012 (12:12 pm)

    Big thanks to Rotary Club for doing this every.single.year.

  • fauntleroy fairy December 1, 2012 (12:56 pm)

    What’s wrong with this picture? The WSRC has kids shopping outside of West Seattle! Why not shop in WS to support our local business’s.

    • WSB December 1, 2012 (3:24 pm)

      FF, if you know of a West Seattle business where a hundred kids can be taken to shop for jackets, shoes, and socks while the stores are closed and at a discount … We are major evangelists of “shop local.” However, in this one particular instance, I don’t see any way they could, aside from maybe Target, which even at that wouldn’t have the kind of support facilities this rather amazing operation requires (more than 350 people, between the volunteers and the kids, all on site at once). Not just the logistics – I can’t think of anyplace else that even carries those types of items, for elementary school kids, in West Seattle – TR

  • WSMama3 December 1, 2012 (2:18 pm)

    Good work Rotary – you’ve really made a difference for kids!

  • fauntleroy fairy December 2, 2012 (9:43 am)

    Target would fit the bill perfectly. I rest my case.

  • Dave Nichols December 2, 2012 (5:39 pm)

    Just a note to thank everyone for donations and helping with the event. We took 96 kids shopping, hosted 12 school officials (including the bus drivers who safely delivered their cargo) 35 Rotarians and 221 community members to help the kids shop. Also a big thanks to Sodo Kitchen for providing breakfast and lunch, and to Sears for opening the store, providing awesome employees to help and a healthy discount to make our donated dollar go far.
    Merry Christmas

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