It's Happening: 40-Year-Old Shop for Tots Memories and How You Can Help Make the Magic Continue

By Julie Perine on November 04, 2018 from It’s Happening via Connect-Bridgeport.com

Back in the late-1970s, my high school boyfriend Jeff and I participated for two consecutive years in the Bridgeport High School Shop for Tots program. We took the same little girl shopping at, I believe, Hills Department Store on Bridgeport Hill. I remember her excitement – and ours too. I don’t remember her name. I sure wish I did. She was a sweetheart and though we encouraged her to buy herself some nice things for Christmas, she was more interested in selecting items for her siblings.
 
The second year was bittersweet. We told her it would be our last year shopping together and she said if we weren’t coming the next year, she wasn’t either. I sure hope she did. And I hope she is doing well. It’s really amazing what a bond can be formed through the Shop for Tots experience. It is an amazing program and one which is still going strong.
 
In 1980, I married my high school sweetheart and we had four children, all who attended BHS and some who were involved in the Shop for Tots program. In 2017, our youngest son and his girlfriend participated and went on and on about how much they loved it. They and their classmates loaded a school bus with 80 children from Johnson and Simpson Elementary Schools, pre-selected according to need.
 
Off they went to Walmart, where each high school student and their designated child had a specific amount of money to spend on clothes and toys. Jacob remembers that his little boy bought superheroes, Nerf guns and other boy toys. Jaryn said her little girl opted for dolls and toy animals. As has been going on for 40 years-plus, the children’s delight was contagious.
 
That can be seen from the photos taken at last year’s event. You can see those pictures, captured by Ben Queen Photography, HERE. After shopping, the kids all go back to BHS for a party, complete with a visit from Santa.
 
Once again, BHS is gearing up for Shop for Tots, which takes place Dec. 20. Donations are being accepted. My friend Cookie Compton has been involved in the program for 20 years.
 
“It’s so rewarding seeing the smiles on all those underprivileged kids’ faces to get toys and clothing,” she said. “They can also buy their siblings presents.”
 
Those who would like to donate to the program can send a check to BHS, 515 Johnson Avenue, Attn: Shop for Tots, Bridgeport, WV 26330.



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