About 150 Big Brothers Big Sisters children and as many volunteers woke up bright and early (actually, it was still a little dark) for a special shopping trip Saturday morning.
The “Littles” spent the morning at Town Center, enjoying a pancake breakfast courtesy of the Rotary Club of El Dorado Hills and a Target shopping spree thanks to the organization’s fundraising efforts. This is the second year Big Brothers Big Sisters of El Dorado County has hosted the event for children whose families can’t afford all the necessities, never mind Christmas presents.
“I am very grateful for this very wonderful experience,” said Fatima Hernandez, 14, of Placerville, who went shopping with translator Juanita Mesa and volunteer Stacey Davidson.
Fatima bought clothes for herself and toys for her brothers, who she said would have received “very little” for Christmas had Big Brothers Big Sisters not helped out.
This is the first year Davidson has volunteered for the event. She was joined by her daughter, Sara Slate, 17.
“I want to make sure that everyone has an opportunity to experience Christmas,” Davidson said.
In El Dorado County, sometimes people don’t think of this area as having people who can’t afford the basics, said Vern Pierson, advisor to the Big Brothers Big Sisters Board of Directors and El Dorado County’s district attorney.
“The need is really there,” he said.
When Tarren Alexander, 15, found out he would get to go shopping this year he scoped out what Target had to offer the day before. Saturday the El Dorado Hills teenager picked up some shirts, sweats, and toiletries.
“It was cool,” said Tarren, who went shopping with volunteer Jennifer Jones of Cameron Park.
“We try to do something like this with (our) kids every year,” Jones said, explaining that by showing her children how other people struggle financially they will learn to better appreciate what they have.
Before they headed over to Target, the children and volunteers ate a hot breakfast cooked by Rotary volunteers — perfect pancakes, sausage and juice.
“This really got my Christmas spirit going,” said Jeff England, Rotary Club of El Dorado Hills president. “It’s great to see the kids so excited to go shopping.”
Law enforcement officials, a K-9 officer and firefighters also attended, giving the children an opportunity to ask questions and check out their vehicles and gear. Santa Claus also made an appearance, posing for photos with the little ones.
And while the children left with the presents, the event volunteers also received great gifts Saturday morning — big smiles and many thanks. Rotarian Kathy Witherow was especially touched by a little girl who ran back into the building where breakfast was served and showed off her “big doggy.”
“She was thrilled and excited and happy,” Witherow said. “It is why we Rotarians do what we do.”