GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) - The Rotary Club of Gulfport-Orange Grove continued a longstanding tradition Saturday to make Christmas wishes come true for dozens of children in the community.
Christmas is still more than a week away, but Santa’s sleigh arrived a little early for dozens of deserving children in Harrison County. It’s all thanks to the Rotary Club of Gulfport-Orange Grove and their ‘Christmas for Kids’ project.
They worked with the Harrison County School District to select 100 children. Typically, each child is given $80 and taken on a shopping trip, but this year due to COVID-19 changes had to be made.
“They created what we call a virtual wish list and they sent it over to us, and we ordered the items on the wish list, or the ones that we could, and it was shipped over to the store and here today they’re here to pick these up so they can have a wonderful Christmas this year,” said Kevin Gaines, Walmart store manager and Rotary Club member.
”There was no way that we were going to let a pandemic stop us from taking care of our kids this year.” said Gaines.
Despite the changes, kids were still excited for the early Christmas gifts. Some even making thank you cards for the Rotary Club.
“So happy!” said Owen Szabara.
“I’m grateful for this,” said Jalacy Augustine. “I mean, I really didn’t have to get it but ya’ll still gave it to me anyway.”
And parents were very appreciative of the extra help.
“I just moved to this area from outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania so it helps.” said Jacob Szabara.
“It’s awesome,” said Tasha Parker. “I wasn’t expecting it and then the school called and said they were chosen and it was a good gesture.”
Crossroads Elementary principal Milton Ray III said this couldn’t come at a better time for some families.
“Some parents lost their jobs, some don’t have the income to buy those things that kids want so our kids are thankful for this opportunity.” said Ray.
This was the 31st year for the Christmas for Kids event.