Each shopper from The Spring had a Buccaneers Cheerleader as a helper
On Friday, the Glazer Family Foundation hosted a holiday shopping spree for children from The Spring of Tampa Bay's transitional housing unit, also known as Aftercare. With help from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Cheerleaders, the Foundation brightened the holidays for a group of kids who have experienced some difficult times.
The Spring of Tampa Bay is a shelter for victims of domestic and family violence.
The shopping spree was held at the Target store in University Plaza and it began promptly at 7:00 a.m. Target opened its doors one hour early to accommodate the 15 children in the program, all of whom were thrilled with the opportunity. Each child was accompanied by a Buccaneers cheerleader who piloted the shopping cart and assisted in picking out the perfect holiday gifts.
Linda Hess, Community Relations Manager for The Spring, expressed appreciation for the Glazer Family Foundation's generosity, focusing on the mothers of the children who got to take part in the shopping spree.
"[The mothers] were ecstatic," said Hess. "They were excited that the community was there for them. For the Glazer Family to come out and give their kids a free shopping day is huge."
Administrators at The Spring know that an event like Friday's shopping spree can turn into an unforgettable experience for the children, as well as a perfect illustration of the message of giving back that The Spring tries to impress on its young residents.
"It is so important that they appreciate this now and they remember the experience so that when they are in higher places and they grow up to be adults they do the same thing," said Jonathan Vanden, Manager for the Transitional Housing Program. "That is the message that we tried to send out."
The kids' shopping patterns indicated that the message was received. In many cases, they used their allowances to pick out gifts not for themselves but for family members. One girl's face lit up when she described the items in her shopping cart: "I got my mom an ornament for Christmas!"
Of course, the children also filled their shopping carts with bikes, clothes and toys and could not wait to show off their new purchases.
Exclaimed one young shopper: "I went shopping. I got my bike and booksack and my shoes. I got everything, God blessed me."