PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - More than two dozen underprivileged kids in the Pascagoula School District have a lot to be thankful for this holiday season. A local business surprised them with a Walmart shopping spree as an early Christmas present.
Twenty-four students got a head start on Black Friday as they picked out the best toys and clothes deals from Walmart. Turf Masters Lawn Care Owners in Pascagoula gave each student $300 to spend.
"This is something that Steve and Gloria Jordan started five years ago. They wanted to give back to the community and it started with one family and they partnered with the city, and now they and the city also partners with the school district," Turf Masters employee Courtney Green said.
The annual program is called Visions of Sugarplums and it aims to add some holiday cheer to Christmas for less fortunate kids.
"Nobody wants children to wake up on Christmas morning [with nothing] and this way they at least have a gift," she said. "If Santa can't come, at least we can."
There was one catch to getting the Christmas cash; each child had to also pick out a few nice things for his or her family.
"I hope they learn a little lesson in giving. We always want to teach that during this time of the year," Community events coordinator Suzanne Steinberger explained. "What a great way to kick off Thanksgiving and the holiday season by teaching that lesson of giving."
It was a lesson many of the kids caught on to quickly.
"I am going to get my sister a pair of shoes. I am going to get my mom a shirt. I am going to get my uncle a shirt," student Destin Smith said.
Some of the other young people say the shopping spree was unique because it showed them just how fun and fulfilling it is to be generous.
"I didn't feel like I love my family to buy them all these things, but when I was buying it, I thought it was very special," another student said.
The hope is to get other businesses and organizations to invest in the program next year, so even more children can learn about the joy of giving.
Other program sponsors included Raising Cane's, which provided lunch to the children. Crazy B's Coffee and Confections also provided the children with desserts to bring home for Thanksgiving dinner.