Christmas shopping free this weekend for kids

Erwin Thompson, in Santa hat, helps a youngster choose a present for one of the members of the child’s family, at the Kids Shop for Free event.

MINDEMOYA—The ever-popular Kids Shop Free event is making its annual return to the Trinity United Church in Mindemoya this Saturday from 11 am to 1 pm, giving children under the age of 12 the chance to pick out and have wrapped Christmas gifts, whether they’re giving them to their grandparents or their dog.

“It will hopefully be a good time!” says co-organizer Marian Sloss, who is putting the event together alongside Tom McQuay.

“We were looking for something new and different for the (then-Mindemoya United Church’s) outreach program. We were brainstorming and Marion Seabrook came up with the idea,” says Ms. Sloss.

Participating children are asked to bring a list of the people for whom they want to get gifts, and each child has a personal shopping assistant who will help them pick out the best presents. At the end, gift wrappers will put the finishing touches on the gift, complete with tags.

This event is sponsored by the Trinity United Church but is open to the whole community.

“The church has been open all day from 9 am to 6 pm for the past month so people could drop off their donations inside the side door,” says Ms. Sloss.

The majority of the gifts from which children can choose are donated by community members. The church tops up the donations when required to have enough gifts from which children can choose. Ms. Sloss says the event can accommodate as many as 50 children.

“They’re invited to come and choose gifts for their brothers, sisters, mom, dad, grandparents and even their pets—that’s just started in the last couple years. It’s very important to kids, they’re so excited to give their pet a gift. We have to have some of those,” says Ms. Sloss.

Mindemoya has been a trailblazer through this event.

“At the time, this was an original idea. Since then, in the last couple years, I’ve heard variations of it where kids pay a quarter as a donation to help buy another child a gift. We haven’t done that yet, because Marion’s original idea was that she wanted something absolutely free for the kids,” says Ms. Sloss.

The event is not just for children—while their kids are shopping, parents are invited to relax and enjoy cookies and refreshments in another room.

Ms. Sloss adds that this is an excellent volunteer opportunity for older children in school and says she has been trying to involve students at Central Manitoulin Public School in Mindemoya.

“We’re trying to see if anyone would want to come and be a personal shopper to help the younger kids,” she says.

The church will still be accepting donations up until the event. Anyone requesting further information or who wants to volunteer is asked to contact Marian Sloss at 705-282-2816 or Tom McQuay at 705-377-5783.