by Andrew Crisp
A group of low-income children received a special holiday gift Thursday in the form of a shopping spree, organized by Boise Parks and Recreation.
More than 100 children paired up with shopping buddies to scour the store for toys, clothing, personal items—or gifts for family and friends.
Now in its seventh year, the program is funded by donations from community groups and citizens, according to Parks Director Doug Holloway. The program doles out $30 gift cards to children who attend one of Boise Parks and Rec's after-school programs.
Audriana Comegys, 9, and her 11-year-old sister, Kenzie, showed Boise Weekly their purchases. After Audriana picked out a new outfit, she helped Kenzie browse a selection of Wii U games in the electronics department.
"We get a lot if kids who are using it to shop for their family," said Holloway. "Some use it to buy personal products—some products you and I might take for granted."
Organizers included a group of young volunteers from area high schools and junior high schools. Holloway's teenage daughter approached an "Acts of Kindness" group at her school, Riverglen Junior High. School counselor Kimberly Grosz said that included approximately 20 students volunteering to lead children through the store.
"We did a clothing and a food drive this year," said Grosz. "In the past, we've made hats and blankets for the Mountain States Tumor Institute."
Each of those students led one of the shopping trip children through the store, often with a first stop at the store's large toy section.
"We believe it to be a much better experience for the kids to have a one-on-one with a volunteer while shopping," said Holloway.