Young shoppers ring in the holiday

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Rocky Mountain Academy students buy presents for friends, family

By Deb Hurley Brobst

The annual Black Friday shopping frenzy couldn’t compare with Rocky Mountain Academy of Evergreen fifth-graders during their holiday shopping party on Friday.

The 50 students moved from table to table buying gifts for classmates as part of the Secret Santa tradition, and also made purchases for family members and friends.

The school’s cafetorium was set up with tables named for the stores that offer similar items: Bed, Bath and Beyond for household items, the Guy Store for anything sports or for dads, Toys R Us for toys, Claire’s Boutique for girl stuff, and a Book ‘n’ More Store for books, DVDs and CDs.

The inventory represented the ultimate in re-gifting: gently used items from students’ homes that were donated to the sale. As they shopped, the students dragged around bags filled with gifts.

Next, the students wrapped the gifts at a wrapping station. Parents helping with the shopping party said they easily went through 20 rolls of wrapping paper plus countless gift bags, and hundreds of feet of tape.

The children had bags of money to make their purchases: fake $1 and $5 bills with their teachers’ names on them, and a dollar’s worth of real coins.

Even though this was a holiday shopping event, the lessons to be learned were more practical: recycling, donating unwanted items, and giving to others. As part of the tradition, children bring in stuffed animals to donate to Evergreen Fire/Rescue so firefighters and paramedics can give them to children and the elderly in need of comfort during an emergency response.

The shopping spree also is a math lesson, as students budgeted their money and counted change.

This has been an annual tradition for these students since kindergarten, and any items remaining after the sale are donated to Evergreen Christian Outreach.

“One of the sayings we talk to the students about is, ‘One man’s trash is another man’s treasure,’ ” said parent Jackie Mohr, who helps coordinate the shopping tradition. Bringing in gently used items helps students clean out their closets, and it gives them the opportunity to give back, she said.

Mohr said her family still uses a set of pink plastic plates she received five years ago.

Fifth-grade teacher Sandy Hoban also was shopping, buying games for her classroom.

“They are having so much fun,” she said amid the chaos. “I would love to do this again.”

Fifth-grade teacher Mona Vick added: “The big thing this (event) shows them is recycling in many ways.”

Seryn Grant, 11, wrapped presents she bought for her best friend, grandfather, mom, sister, cousin and uncle, while Nash Mitchell, 10, was able to find presents for everyone in his family.

This was Nash’s first year participating in the event, and he thought it was fun.

“It’s really cool that people donated stuff,” he said.

After shopping, the students gathered in a circle to receive their Secret Santa gifts.

Hoban told them: “This is the loudest, craziest present-buying extravaganza I’ve ever witnessed. I’m glad I did it with you.”