Merced County Times Newspaper
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Rotarians take local youngsters on shopping spree


The line of people for Sunrise Rotary Club’s Clothes For Kids event snaked around the outside of Target on Saturday as 100 kids and their families turned out for the group’s annual giveaway.

Inside the store, the kids were leading Rotary members through clothing racks and the shoe aisle, picking out early Christmas gifts ahead of the holidays.

The kids are nominated every year by local nonprofit Love INC to participate in the program. Sunrise Rotary then gathers the same number of Rotarians and people from the community to act as personal shoppers. Their job is to follow the kids and their families around the store, pushing shopping carts and keeping a running tally of how much they’re spending.

Each shopper has $100 to play with. The selection is limited mostly to clothing, Freeman said. That means no jewelry, toys or gifts for other members of the family. Target is also a partner in the event, waiving the sales tax on items and dedicating special registers for the shoppers to pay at.

Sunrise Rotary raises around $12,000 for the event each year. Most of the money is raised in March, when the Rotary has its annual Shrimp Feed.

“It started off with just 30 kids and people just loved it so much they kept donating. Now it’s up to 100,” said event chair Aggie Freeman. “We’ve had people walk up and hand us checks while we’re doing this.”

The event started in 2009, under Rotary President Rich Miller. He established a partnership with Target and they’ve been doing it ever since. Miller has since retired and moved to Texas. Civic projects are a big part of the Rotary’s national mission, said former president Eric Moore.

“We raise a lot of money throughout the year, but then we redeploy it into the community,” said Moore.

“It’s a bit of a smaller project, but it’s also a lot more intimate and it orbits children during the holiday,” he said. “It’s an early Christmas. It’s a lot of fun for everyone.”

You can donate to the Rotary at


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