Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington

From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Deacon Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302

St. Vincent de Paul continues needy children’s Christmas shopping program

by Bonita Lawhead, Inland Register staff

(From the Dec. 4, 2003 edition of the Inland Register)

For the third year, the St. Vincent de Paul Society will offer Christmas Shopping for Kids, a program that assists low-income children in buying Christmas gifts for their immediate families.

Last year, the organization assisted 300 children; this year they are preparing for 500.

In the month of November, St. Vincent’s food bank staff gives gift certificates to parents who have children ages 6-16. These gift certificates are the children’s entry tickets Sunday, Dec. 14, into a special shopping area of St. Vincent’s Thrift Store at 2901 E. Trent Ave. in Spokane.

The certificates are color-coded to let the children and their parents know what time they can shop. The shopping day is divided into six one-hour shifts and the 60 or so adult and youth volunteers help about 85 children per hour. Parents bring their children and then wait for them in a specially designated area.

The gift certificates are exchanged for $10 in “St. Vinnie’s Bucks,” which the children use for their shopping. The volunteers help the children purchase gifts for moms, dads, brothers, sisters and grandparents from a large selection of inexpensively-priced items.

“They can really get quite a lot for their $10,” said Irene Bailly, who is program chairperson.

After they have chosen their gifts, the children take them to another area where the items are wrapped for Christmas. After that the children are returned to their parents.

Besides chairing the program, Bailly is responsible for bringing the idea to Spokane.

She learned about the Christmas shopping program, which was in place elsewhere, at a convention three years ago in Seattle. “Only it was for the handicapped,” Bailly said. “But I thought we could do it with underprivileged children.”

As often happens, when she told the St. Vincent Conference president about it, the president told her to “go ahead and try it.” The program now is entering it’s third year. “We improve it a little more every year,” she said.

(To help with the project, either by volunteering or donating, call Bailly: 928-9322. Particular gift items wanted include toys, games, hats, gloves, socks, kitchen utensils, candles and lotions. Donations of Christmas wrapping paper, tags, ribbon and tape are welcome. Cash donations are always greatly appreciated.)

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