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  • stephencambron

Christmas blessings come early thanks to RoHo’s Annual Shopping Spree

On Tuesday, more than 350 children from 29 different schools across three states got to celebrate Christmas early thanks to the ROHO Charitable Trust and Fishing Club with a shopping spree at Walmart in Middlesboro.

The shopping spree has been held since 1970 and continues to grow each year through the sponsorship of the RoHo Fishing Club — that brings together various businesses, schools and other volunteers to help with RoHo’s endeavor to help make Christmas a little brighter for these children.

The first shopping spree had only five children but has continued to grow to the success of 355 children being sponsored. This is made possible entirely by the contributions and work of the RoHo members, business sponsors and the many volunteers.

This year, each child was given $150 with a stipulation that $110 of that be spent on clothing of their choice The other $40 can be spent on toys or other items. Each child also received a pair of shoes donated by Walmart.

The children are chosen from 29 schools by their principals and teachers in the tri-state area as to their need and are then paired with an adult volunteer to help them choose their items for their very special Christmas shopping trip.

Children from Bell and Harlan counties, Lee County, Va., and Claiborne and Union counties in Tennessee were selected by the faculty members at each school.

Walmart and its associates began their preparations for this very special event in September.

“We all look forward to this event,” Store Manager Doug Napier said. “The store provides a special treat for lunch and brings Santa Claus to the store to visit with the children. We love seeing each child’s smiling face, and we just appreciate being a part of the ROHO event and thankful for what they do.”

Each student was assisted by an adult volunteer from a local business, school or civic organization who helped guide them through their day of shopping. Those included Home Federal Bank, Middlesboro High School football and basketball teams, Claiborne County and Cumberland Gap High Schools, Bell-Whitley, East End Pawn Shop, Kiwanis of Middlesboro, LMU Athletic Department, LMU-DCOM, Southeast Community and Technical College, J. Frank White Academy and Key Club, and Middlesboro High School Key Club — which included approximately 45 members.

“We bring students from both Cumberland Gap High School and Claiborne High School and they work together on this event,” Danna Smith, GEARUP coordinator for Claiborne County said. “It’s the most wonderful day of the year. It’s my favorite day of the year.”

RoHo spokesperson Lawrence Tuck said Walmart is an outstanding supporter of the program.

“They go above and beyond each year,” Tuck said. “It’s beyond the checkout lane. It’s throughout the entire store to make sure that this is a memorable experience for these children.”

“The children that are chosen to participate in this shopping spree often think of giving before receiving,” President of RoHo Steve Green said. “Some of them are buying Christmas presents for siblings or parents rather than for themselves. These kids are not selfish at all, and they try to get things for brothers or sisters or their moms and dads.”

RoHo was first organized in 1957 by a group of former Jaycees who wanted to continue serving their community. Today, there are approximately 80 RoHo members from the tri-state area.

According to Lawrence Tuck, the more donations that are received, the more children they can take shopping.

“Remember, we started with five children and look how we’ve grown,” Tuck said. “We brought 355 children this year because of their generous donations made to RoHo. We are very thankful.”

You may make a donation to sponsor a child in the shopping spree for $150 or any size donation you wish to make. Individual tickets for the fishing tournament are $5. At the tournament, many door prizes are given and you do not have to be present or fish to win. The tournament is held the first weekend in May and all donations go to the children for their shopping spree.

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