Rotarians share holiday joy with needy children

Twenty-one children kicked off their Christmas shopping early Saturday morning with the Sunrise Rotary Club of Federal Way.

The Sunrise Rotary Club, one of two rotary organizations in Federal Way, has provided the holiday shopping spree for low-income children for several years, said this year’s spree committee chairwoman Nancy Westerick. This year was her first year participating in the event.

“It went wonderfully,” she said. “We had a great time.”

Rotarians decide how much to allocate to the spree each year and pick the number of children based on that amount. This year, the rotary gave each child $150 to spend.

“The parents were extremely thankful,” Westerick said. “You could just tell everybody was so overwhelmed with happiness. There was total excitement in all of their faces.”

Federal Way school district teachers picked which of their students would participate in the rotary’s annual spree based on need. Westerick said teachers took awhile deciding this year.

This year’s students met the rotarians at Gottschalks on Saturday morning for breakfast, donated by Top Foods. Once they stocked up on energy, rotarians led them down into the store to start the shopping.

“The kids were so excited,” Westerick said. “All 21 got presents.”

Rotarians tried to make sure the kids got things they needed, like coats, clothing and socks, Westerick said.

She and her 17-year-old daughter, who participated in the event with her, helped a little girl pick out a winter coat.

“She was hugging her coat because she loved it,” Westerick said.

After Gottschalks, the kids got to pick out things they wanted at KB Toys. One child picked out a guitar and another chose a pick-up truck. A couple of children bought presents for their brothers and sisters. “They had a blast,” Westerick said.

The kids also got a visit from Santa.

Westerick said she’ll be participating in the event next year.

“It was so rewarding,” she said. “It was really fun.”

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