Still think Santa Claus just shows up in the middle of the night? On this day every year – the first Saturday in December – hundreds of Santas rise very early, not to drop off gifts and fly away, but to escort local kids through a wonderland of dining and shopping, during the Rotary Club of West Seattle-organized Children’s Shopping Spree.
Southcenter Mall was the location again this year, since it has the nearest Sears, fourth Shopping Spree since the old location in SODO closed. Organizers and volunteers gathered long before dawn, getting their instructions from Rotarian Josh Sutton:
They cheered for each group of kids arriving on school buses from West Seattle:
More arrivals! The kids get a fun morning plus practical presents – new coats, shoes, etc. pic.twitter.com/CFPEYlNuV3
— West Seattle Blog (@westseattleblog) December 2, 2017
Pairs of volunteers are matched with kids:
And it’s off to breakfast:
Some shopping happens inside Sears.
Some, at tables stacked with socks and coats:
The gifts are bought via Rotary donations and fundraisers. And the time given by members and volunteers is priceless. Some of the groups represented this morning included Alpha Kappa Alpha, Omega Psi Phi, Alpha Phi Alpha, Phi Beta Sigma, Kappa Alpha Psi, Zeta Phi Beta, Delta Upsilon Omega, Omega Delta Phi, Delta Sigma Theta, and UW Rotaract. Even Seattle Lutheran High School basketball players!
And as noted on the Rotary page featuring the history of the Shopping Spree – which goes back 45 years! – school administrators and counselors are a big part of the morning’s success too. Schools represented this year included Lafayette, Roxhill, Concord, Genesee Hill elementaries, and Pathfinder K-8.