Nearly 300 children got the opportunity to shop at the Middlesboro Walmart on Tuesday thanks to the ROHO Fishing Club. A shopping spree sponsored by the club was held for 296 children from the Tri-State area. Various businesses, schools and other volunteers helped with the endeavor to help make Christmas a little brighter for these children.
This year, each child was given $150 to spend — $40 for toys and $110 for clothing. They also received shoes donated by Walmart.
The children are chosen from 24 schools by their teachers and principals in the Tri-State area based on need. They are then paired with an adult volunteer to help with the choice of items for their special Christmas shopping trip.
“The children chosen to participate in the shopping spree often think of giving before receiving, some of them buying Christmas presents for siblings or parents rather than for themselves,” said ROHO President Jamie McCune. “These kids are not selfish at all.”
In order to raise funds for this event, the club sponsors a fishing tournament the first weekend in May each year. The proceeds from the tournament are used for the shopping spree. Individual tickets for the fishing tournament are $5 each. Individuals can also sponsor a child for $150 or any size donation.
According to store manager Doug Napier, Walmart and its associates began preparation for the even in September. He said all of the associates look forward to it.
Walmart also provides a special lunch for the children and brings Santa Claus to the store to visit. This year, Olaf from the Disney movie “Frozen” was at the store as well.
The elementary-age shoppers were transported from area schools by church vans from First Baptist Church of Middlesboro. Several employees from local businesses assisted children once they arrived.
Local businesses assisting children included: First State Bank, Home Federal Bank, Mountain View Nursing and Rehab Center, Bell-Whitley, East End Pawn Shop, Community Trust, Kiwanis of Middlesboro, Pappy’s, LMU Athletic Department, LMU-DCOM, Southeast Kentucky Community & Technical College, J. Frank White Academy and Middlesboro ARH.
A group of approximately 65 Middlesboro High School Key Club members also participated in the shopping spree.
ROHO was first organized in 1965 by a group of former Jaycees who wanted to continue serving their community. There are approximately 80 ROHO members from the Tri-State area. The first shopping spree involved five children in 1970.