Approximately 68 high school students went on a shopping spree at Walmart today as part of the Interact and Rotary Club’s annual gift collection for families in Lacey, Barnegat and Waretown.
The students arrive at the superstore at 7:30 a.m. where they receive envelopes with children’s gender, age and interests. Christmas gifts were bought for approximately 500 kids.
With a full shopping cart of Barbies, baby dolls and Nerf guns, Treasurer Danielle Padovani and Jaimie Napoleon were shopping for a five and seven year old girl as well as a 10-year-old boy.
“We don’t know anything about boys. We’re kind of winging it,” Padovani said. “But we put a lot of heart into it.”
Napoleon enjoys volunteering for this event because kids whose parents might be unable to purchase gifts will have something to open, she said.
“It’s nice for them to get gifts, no matter what their situation is,” she said.
“Especially with Sandy and all the heartbreak it’s caused,” Padovani said, reflecting on how excited she was as a little girl opening gifts on Christmas.
Jeanette Aiello and Mark Prowse were looking at jeans.
“I like the cause and how it goes to other people,” Aiello said of her involvement.
“It feels really good to be doing this,” Prowse said.
Rebekah Lawler, Christina Vanberkel and Alexis Stephens were shopping for DVDs.
“We’re just trying to make these kids’ Christmas special,” Lawler said.
“With the economy the way it is, especially with Sandy, people are in need,” Vanberkel said. “Giving a little of your time is nothing.”
Caitlin Glenn and Melanie Rebenski had a cart full of dolls, a small stroller, Legos and a basketball.
“It’s really rewarding because you know you’re making a difference and that’s what Christmas is all about,” Rebenski said.
Interact and the Rotary have been doing this for more than 15 years, said advisor Bunny McGauley, who was accompanied to Walmart with other volunteers including Lori Aceto of the Forked River Rotary Club and teachers Sue Pena and Juliane Connelly.
The students will deliver the gifts to the families on Tuesday, Dec. 19. Return to Lacey Patch next week for a follow up story.