Picking out gifts for the children

By David Hotle, The JOURNAL


As the Washington Kiwanis A. M?ers and the Middle School Builders Club were doing their Secret Santa program last year, committee chair Holly Mueller remembers delivering packages to a family in Washington.

She described how the father had two boys go out to the car and help her move the packages inside. Two younger daughters were beside themselves with anticipation at what ?Santa? could have brought them this year. The mother also took time to show her gratitude for the gifts that the family was receiving which was symbolic that they would have a Christmas that year. The main item on their list was blankets and Mueller made sure they got several new quilts and comforts.

?Everyone I delivered to was thankful they were able to provide a Christmas for their children,? she said.

Mueller explained during the Secret Santa program volunteers from the clubs show at Wal-Mart to buy gifts for children in 25 families this year. The group will gather at 6 p.m. Wednesday to shop and then wrap the presents at 6 p.m. Thursday in the Washington Middle School cafeteria. She said anyone in the community wanting to help can come out to Wal-Mart and be part of the event or volunteer at the school to wrap presents. Gifts and food boxes will be delivered Saturday morning.

The names of the families that need gifts are received from HACAP, Parents as Teachers, and from counselors in the school district. Mueller said that a member of Kiwanis is a teacher in the WACO district so there is some participation in that school district.

?Weare going to be shopping for clothes, and toys, and books,? she said. ?The parents put the needs of the children on a list and we hand out the lists without names ? we just have an age of the children. The list includes items they need and we try to get as much as we can for them.?

Mueller said the program had been going on for decades. She said she learned at a recent Kiwanis meeting the Secret Santa program had begun with two families and had grown to 25 this year. Last year 21 families with 59 children received gifts from the service club.

?People should come out,? she said. ?You are making new friends. You are supporting the community. You are showing the young people of the Builders Club community service. It is just something great to enjoy.?

This year the club applied for a Washington County Riverboat Foundation grant to help purchase the gifts and received $3,000.