The Christmas spirit is alive and well this year in Middlesboro as the annual ROHO Club Shopping Spree was held at Walmart for 364 children. Bus load after bus load of children were dropped off at the Middlesboro Walmart to meet up with an adult volunteer that helped navigate them through the store, aiding them in choosing what to spend their money on.
The children were picked from 28 different schools in the Tri-State area by the faculty of their respective schools. According to its Facebook page, ROHO serves children from Bell County, Lee County, Virginia, and Claiborne and Union counties in Tennessee.
Various businesses, schools, and volunteers from the community all endeavored to make this Christmas a little brighter for underprivileged children. ROHO raises funds for this event with a fishing tournament in May and the proceeds all go to the children for the shopping spree.
Each child is given $150 each. This sum is split between $40 for toys and $110 for clothes. Walmart also donates shoes for the children.
The shopping spree has been a tradition since 1970 — with just five children at the time — and has expanded exponentially ever since.
According to newspaper files, the club gets its name from an old Archie Campbell song about a rooster named “ROHO” that was being turned out to pasture, so to speak. The older members at the time the club was established in 1965 reportedly felt they had something in common with the rooster — thus the name.
The children aren’t only treated to a fun shopping spree, however. Walmart also provides lunch for the kids. In addition, Santa, along with Spider-Man, made an appearance.
Blake Bowling, president of ROHO, stated that the children chosen to participate in the shopping spree often think of giving before receiving. Some of them purchase gifts for siblings or parents.
ROHO member John Conner stated, “It provides us the opportunity to try and give something to the kids of the community. To the kids of the community, it provides them a really nice Christmas without much effort on their part…it’s a shot in the arm for the kids is the way I look at it.”