Christmas came early for some lucky Tigard-Tualatin students last week. They were chosen by their school counselors to participate in Christmas for Kids, an annual event held at the Hollywood Fred Meyer store in Portland that provides clothing, toys and other items for the selected kids plus gifts for their siblings.
Counselors at the 10 elementary schools in the Tigard-Tualatin School District each chose four children in kindergarten through third grade, who joined dozens of other kids from around the metro area for a morning of shopping and surprises.
Each local child was accompanied by an adult personal shopper plus a Tigard High School student to help select items listed on a form that parents had previously filled out. The forms included the child's sizes plus information about the siblings, and each child was allowed a certain amount of money based on the number of siblings and other circumstances.
Dan Goldman, who works in administration at the district office, and THS freshman Jayati Ramakrishnan met up with Templeton Elementary student Govanni at the front of the store. Armed with a calculator so as not to go over the budget, they first stopped by racks of parkas.
The first one Govanni tried on was a bit big, but the second - a snazzy red-and-black one in a size 8 - fit perfectly and even gave him a little growing room.
Govanni also got to choose a sweatshirt before the group moved on to the next stop, where he was handed dental hygiene kits for him and his brother and two sisters.
Govanni was almost overwhelmed when a couple of deputies invited him to choose a stuffed animal from a long table piled high with animals of all sizes. After much deliberation, he chose a small Snoopy dog.
Then the group headed toward the children's clothing section of the store, which soon became clogged with shopping carts and people trying to find just the right styles and sizes.
In the department, Byrom Elementary first-grader Arturo was shopping with Julie Dove of Ron Rothert Insurance and THS sophomore Sarah Goodman, while Alberta Rider Elementary student Jacob was shopping with Karen Williamson with First Tech Credit Union and THS senior Shawana Lee.
'Most of the leadership kids are doing it,' Lee said. 'I thought it sounded like fun to go shopping.'
Bridgeport Elementary student Juan, who has one brother and one sister, was shopping with a businesswoman and Alexa Kanbergs, a THS sophomore.
'This is the highlight of my year,' Kanbergs said. 'Of all the things we do in leadership, this is my favorite.'
Deer Creek Elementary third-grade Evan, who has one brother and one sister, was shopping with THS sophomore Alex Hogan, who said, 'My best friend is in leadership, and I thought this sounded really cool, and I wanted to do it.'
THS school resource officer Dan Gill, who was shepherding a youngster around, called the event 'a pretty neat deal.'
Pointing to a giant stuffed animal in his shopping cart, he said, 'We have the biggest bear in town.'
Since he didn't have a calculator, Gill was keeping track of the accumulated merchandise with a pen and paper.
'I'm doing it the old-fashioned way,' he said. 'That's what a good education does for you.'
In another part of the store, Patricia Keller, who works in school district administration and was helping Metzger Elementary second-grader Joshua shop, said, 'This is too fun.'
Helping them was Lili Lam, a THS senior, who said, 'Getting jeans to fit is our biggest problem.'
As the shopping spree wound down, Nancy Ferguson, Templeton school counselor, said. 'This is such a wonderful event. And sometimes the personal shoppers contribute money of their own.'
Portland Life Underwriters organizes the event, soliciting donations from the various businesses and organizations it deals with to help provide a merry Christmas for underprivileged children.