Over 300 elementary aged children from 25 schools in Bell County, Lee County, Virginia and Claiborne and Union Counties in Tennessee, participated in the annual Roho Christmas shopping spree at Walmart in Middlesboro on Tuesday morning.
The children were selected by faculty members at each school and brought to the shopping spree via buses and church vans. Volunteers from the Bell County Chamber of Commerce, First State Financial, Home Federal Bank, Commercial Bank of Harrogate, Mountain View Nursing Home and Rehab Center, East End Pawn Shop, Community Trust, Kiwanis of Middlesboro, Pappy’s, Lincoln Memorial University Athletic Department, Debusk College of Osteopathic Medicine, Southeast Community and Technical College, Middlesboro High School Key Club and J. Frank White Academy greeted the children once they arrived at the store.
Children were partnered with volunteers to help with their shopping spree. Each child was allotted $150 with approximately 60 percent of their money to be spent on clothing and 40 percent on toys. In addition to the $150 shopping spree, each child will receive a new pair of shoes from Walmart.
President of Roho, Bill Dean, says the children chosen to participate in the shopping spree often think of others before picking out gifts for themselves.
“These kids are not selfish at all, they try to get things for brothers or sisters or their mom or dad,” said Dean.
The annual event started in 1970 with five children and has since expanded from year to year as contributions from Roho members, business sponsors and volunteers increase.
The Roho Club sponsors a fishing tournament the first weekend in May each year, with all of the proceeds used for the shopping spree in December. Individual tickets for the fishing tournament are $5 each and many door prizes are awarded. Participants do not have to be present or fish to be eligible for door prizes.
Walmart and its associates begin preparing for the event in September and according to Store Manager Doug Napier, they all look forward to the annual event. In addition to the yearly luncheon and Santa Claus visit provided by Walmart, children also got to meet Olaf from Disney’s popular movie ‘Frozen.’