Kids shop for family at VES

VES secretary Shannon Patterson helps first-grader Emily Wilcutt select a gift during the school's Santa shop on Nov. 30. (Reporter Photo/Neal Wagner)

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

Dozens of students at Valley Elementary School flooded the school’s conference room the morning of Nov. 30 to get a jump start on Christmas shopping for their family members and friends.

Nearly every item imaginable, from toy tractors to miniature Zen gardens and jewelry, filled the room as teachers and parent volunteers helped the children shop for their loved ones.

“They get so excited about this every year,” said VES kindergarten teacher Kathy Lightfoot. “The PTO does a great job putting this together, and getting appropriate gifts that the children can afford.”

Every classroom at the school signed up for a 30-minute time slot in the Santa shop throughout the week. When the children arrived at the shop, they were paired with an adult to help them select gifts within their budgets.

Many children brought a list of family members they were shopping for, and the adults helped them select appropriate items, none of which were more than $5. After the children purchased the items, the adults helped them wrap their gifts.

Even though the school has held a Santa shop for its students the past few years, this year was different, said VES secretary Shannon Patterson.

“This is our first year to do it like this. We usually go through a company,” Patterson said. “But this year, the PTO set everything up. We were still out shopping at 11 last night.

“It was a lot more work, but this way we can have better quality gifts and better prices for the kids,” she added, noting the PTO purchased about 5,000 items to sell in the Santa shop.

A portion of the proceeds from the Santa shop will benefit the PTO, Patterson said.

As the students arrived at the shop, many knew exactly what they wanted to purchase, while others browsed the inventory before making their selections.

“I’m so excited, I’m so excited. She’s going to love this,” one kindergarten student said excitedly as he selected a gift for his mother.

Patterson said the most popular items at the shop were miniature gumball machines, bath and body items, jewelry, toys for pets and musical Christmas ties.

“There’s going to be a lot of daddies in Pelham wearing musical ties this year,” Patterson said with a laugh.