Season of giving in Gladbrook

Annual Kids Shopping Day packs local church basement

Claire Handorf helps wrap up gifts to be given by children to their loved ones this Christmas season during the annual Kids Shopping Day event at Peace Church in Gladbrook. The event gives kids an opportunity to choose gifts to give to their family at no cost. Over 200 kids from around the region participated in the volunteer and donation-led effort. Photo by Darvin Graham

The weather was cold with just a little bit of snow on the ground as shoppers began to line up, ready to make out a list for their loved ones long before 9 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 11.

The annual Kids Shopping Day chaired by the Gladbrook American Legion Auxiliary Children and Youth Committee took place once again at Peace Church.

“We are just amazed at how the people in our community support Kids Shopping Day year after year,” organizer Jeanne Paustian said. “It has now become a Gladbrook Christmas tradition.”

The project is executed with help from Gladbrook area churches, organizations, and individuals. Once again with thousands of items donated by the community we created an opportunity for area children to “shop” all by themselves and without any exchange of money.

215 children diligently looked over the many items searching for the perfect gift to give to 8-10 family members. As you might have guessed, there were a lot of toys, Hawks and Cyclones items, and beautiful gift baskets.

A young shopper fills out his gift buying list at the Kids Shopping Day on Dec. 11. Kids had a room full of donated items to choose from ranging from kids toys to jewelry, decor, tools, collegiate memorabilia and a million things in between. Photo by Darvin Graham

The children came from all around our area including Garwin, Marshalltown, Reinbeck, Green Mountain, Melbourne and, of course, many from Gladbrook and Lincoln too.

One mother told us that her children shopped two years ago and that is all they talked about all year.

Parents patiently waited for their children in the sanctuary of the church. They enjoyed listening to Christmas carols by pianist June Bessman, viewing the beautiful decorations, and refreshments.

Volunteers helped the younger children shop. Many of the children were all smiles as they knew they had picked out the perfect gift for their moms, dads, brothers, sisters and family members. Other volunteers wrapped their presents, and each tag stated “Jesus Loves You”. When the shoppers left, their treasures were ready to be put under the tree.

The kids then visited the “People of Bethlehem”, played by Kay Lowry, Rev. Gideon Gallo, Lisa Koester, and Rose Russell, to receive a nativity card and ornament as their gift.

Well over 50 volunteers from the Gladbrook Legion Auxiliary, Peace Church and around the community came together on Saturday, Dec. 11 to make the 2021 Kids Shopping Day event a success. The basement of Peace Church was packed with kids looking for the perfect gifts to give their families. Contributed photo

Tired and happy, kids left for home with a large bag of gifts for loved ones in their hands, plus a seed, containing the awareness of Christ’s love.

An abundance of our good Gladbrook-Lincoln folks contributed in countless ways to this year’s KSD. Individuals, our local churches, and organizations worked together beautifully to serve the children and families in our area.

A very special thank you to everyone that donated items or gave monetary donations for the Christmas Store; the ladies that pre-wrapped packages and made the gift tags, the guys that helped get the church ready, the many volunteers that helped set up the store, 70-plus people that helped on shopping day, and the guys that came back to put the church back to normal. The sparkle in the children’s eyes told us they appreciated everything. We needed each and every one of you in order to pull everything together.

Many of the items that were left were boxed up and taken to Westbrook Acres, so their residents may shop for their loved ones.

Hopefully the 10th Kids Shopping Day will be held on Sat., Dec. 10h. As soon as you hang the 2022 calendar mark the date to help!

In the kitchen of the Peace Church basement a group of helpers assisted the littlest shoppers with their gift wrapping. Giving a few helping hands were, from left, Pat Clausen, Pat Wiebensohn and Maddie Rohrer. Photo by Darvin Graham

Julie Hopper huddles up with a young shopper at the Kids Shopping Day in Gladbrook last Saturday to help make sure they leave with everything they need to give gifts to their family members this holiday season. Photo by Darvin Graham

Photo by Darvin Graham

Photo by Darvin Graham