Special to The Explorer
Thirty-five students in grades K-6 are having a little brighter Christmas, with the help of volunteers from Catalina Mountain Elks Lodge #2815 and the Marana Unified School District.
Adults accompanied the kids on a shopping trip at J.C. Penney in the Tucson Mall on Saturday, Dec. 5. The Elks provided each child with $140 worth of shoes and clothing with the benefit of Penney's discounts.
After shopping, the children were treated to a pizza party at the Elks Lodge in Catalina. Every child received a gift from Santa and Mrs. Claus, who arrived in a Golder Ranch Fire District fire truck with a bagful of toys. They also received knitted gloves and a small blanket donated by Elks members John and Lori Pearl, who received a discount from Walgreens. Beanie Babies were among the many gifts the children received, thanks to Neil and Kay Honn.
After opening their gifts and eating Christmas cookies, the children played games organized by Joyce Garcia, Elks event co-chair. Everyone was given a goody bag with assorted treats before boarding the bus for the ride home.
"It was a very special and eventful day for the kids and for the volunteers as well," a release said.
"The generosity of the Elks Lodge over the last couple of years has made such an incredible difference for our students," said Elizabeth Armenta, Roadrunner Elementary School principal.
Robert Hurt, Elks event chairman, said the most gratifying experience "was seeing the smiles of appreciation on the faces of the children."
Every year, the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks conducts shopping sprees nationwide to help needy children receive clothing at Christmas.