Over 250 children took to the aisles at a local Target store on Saturday to purchase gifts thanks to the generosity of the Glazer Family Foundation and one of its most heartwarming annual events, the "Holiday Shopping Spree."
As each child entered the store, he or she was provided with an $85 gift card, a hearty breakfast and a greeting from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Cheerleaders and team mascot Captain Fear.
Ricky Gallon, community relations director for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Tampa Bay, noticed something that various volunteers have been impressed by year after year at the Shopping Spree event: In many cases, the children were more focused on picking out gifts for others in their family.
"They are buying clothing and things for their families," said Gallon. "It's so warming to see the kids step up and be responsible and share the wealth, so to speak."
One example was eight-year-old Ayanna Armstrong, who explained why many of the items in her basket would be going to others. "Christmas is a holiday for giving," she said. "I bought Bouncy the puppy, 'Let's Play,' and a greeting card for my cousin."
For many participants, the chance to shop was an opportunity to bring joy to their families. The items that twelve-year-old Anthony Horton bought fit his favorite part of Christmas – as he put it, "Sharing things with your family and friends." Horton purchased a watch for his aunt and a pair of Nerf toys to enjoy with his cousin.
Each child was aided in his or her shopping by a volunteer from among a group comprised of the cheerleaders, Buccaneer staff and members of the Buccaneers Women's Organization. The volunteers helped the children navigate the story and reach items on high shelves, but according to 11-year-old Walter Floyd, they also were able to share some valuable life lessons.
"I learned that when you shake somebody's hand, you have to look in their eyes to say thank you," Floyd said. "Also, Christmas is not just thinking about yourself, but thinking about family and giving."
Since 2000, the Glazer Family Foundation has hosted this annual event to provide a happy holiday season for needy children throughout Tampa Bay. For more information on the Glazer Family Foundation, visit www.GlazerFamilyFoundation.org.