Where’s a kid to go with a long holiday shopping list and a very limited budget? How about the annual Elves’ Gift Shop on Dec. 5 (9:30 a.m.to 1 p.m.) at Park Forest Middle School. There, children ages 4 and up will be paired with a big elf who will guide them as they shop for presents for mom, dad, siblings, teachers, pets and friends. Kids can even wrap every gift they buy and have their holiday shopping all wrapped up a day before the start of Hanukkah and nearly three full weeks before Christmas.
The event is organized annually by the State College Junior Woman’s Club (jwcsc.com) whose club members work year-round to seek out and collect gifts under $5. At the one-day event, 20 local Girl Scouts, also known as the “elves,” help the kids manage their money and check names off their shopping lists. Gifts include mugs, candy, pens, notepads, dog chew toys and much more.
“It’s a great way for younger kids to be a part of the holiday surprise and feel grown-up,” says Event Chair Melissa Showalter. Last year, Showalter’s children were delighted to give their father a compass on a carabiner bought at the holiday shop. “The thing that makes [the gifts] special is that the child picked them out themselves.”
Parents are invited to the fun, too. While their children choose and wrap gifts, parents can relax or get some shopping done themselves as a variety of vendors will be selling adult-friendly gifts. Families also can visit Santa and participate in a raffle and cookie walk.
This is the fundraiser’s 30th year, one of the longest-running fundraising events in the area. The Elves’ Gift Shop raises about $7,000 for a local charity every year, and this year’s charity is the Jana Marie Foundation, a group that works to empower young people, especially young women.
“It’s really amazing that one day brings in that much money for the organization,” Showalter says. “We are really looking forward to it.”
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