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Library's 'Holiday Store' Inspires Gift of Giving in Children

Get out your piggy banks. It’s that time of year again-time for holiday shopping. Although most kids are eager to fill out a wish-list itemizing their wants for Christmas, one local program is more about showing children how much fun it can be to give. KSMU’s Theresa Bettmann has more.

[Background sound of a guided tour]That’s Shelly Kaminski, manager of the Library gift shops, taking me through this year’s Holiday Store at The Library Center. The Holiday Store is a special shopping experience for children, allowing them to purchase quality, affordable items to give as gifts. Kaminski says she started the Holiday Store eight years ago as a way for children to experience the fun of giving, while also teaching valuable skills.

“It’s a good experience for kids because, first of all, they may work to make [their own] money. Then they learn to save their money. Here children come in and get to actually put their money to work. They get to pick out the presents they want [to give], and then wrap them and take them home. It’s also a really great opportunity to practice math skills, especially with the older children. They learn the joy of giving and the fun of a surprise,” Kaminski said.

The Holiday Store not only benefits the child shoppers each holiday season, but all proceeds are used for the children summer reading programs at the library. Last year the store raised about $3200 dollars for these programs. Kaminski says this is a win-win situation for the children.

As many as 70 volunteers work to help children with their holiday shopping needs. Each shopping experience takes about 30 minutes as children work their way through the rows and rows of gift items.

“Our greeter will visit with the parents a little bit and explain how the process works. Then they will give them a sheet of paper to write down who they are shopping for, and how much the child can spend on each person. The money the children have saved is put into an envelope, given to a shopping assistant, and the child is assigned a volunteer who takes them through the process. [Volunteers] will tell them ‘okay you have two dollars you can spend on mom let me show you some of the things you would be able to get for her and you tell me what you think she would like’,” said Kaminski.

Kaminski says that after the children select and purchase their items, they get to wrap them there in the shop, so they will be ready to go under the tree once they get home. She says that many of the children are so excited about their purchases; they aren’t sure whether they can keep the secret until Christmas Day.

The Holiday Store is now open and will remain open at the Library Center through December 5th. Hours of operation are from 10 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Sunday. For KSMU News, I’m Theresa Bettmann.