Despite challenges, Kids Christmas Store turns out ‘great’

The sixth annual Kids Free Christmas Store turned out a little different this year, with fewer shoppers than in the past.

But Nancy Patton, founder and director of the event, which gives children 4 through 12 the chance to shop for family members, said “it worked out great after what we had to go through to make it happen.”

She said whether or not the event would even occur was questionable until organizers knew what the state’s parameters were going to be. They came up with the idea of splitting it between its past location, the Sweet Home Evangelical Church gym, and Hope Church. They also required participants to pre-register.

“We know a lot of kids were left out, but we did what we could, Patton said.”

She solicited businesses and individuals for donations, which were “very generous,” Patton said, with emphasis.

“Some people that normally give a smaller amount gave twice as much. They, too, wanted the event to happen for the kids.”

She said a customer at her Trash to Treasure store donated 75 new backpacks and another gave $300 to purchase food to put in the packs. Each child or family received a backpack with food.

Patton said she appreciates the efforts of volunteers who turned out to help children shop and wrap gifts.

The final count, she said, was 38 shoppers at Hope Church and 45 at the Evangelical Church, for a total of 83 – compared to 185 last year. They wound up with a total of 394 gifts.

“We’re looking forward to next year,” Patton said.