After pulling his Max Steele Turbo Sword out of the shopping bag, 7-year-old Izrael’s eyes lit up and he smiled — a big smile.
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“It’s a toy sword and you sword fight with it,” he said.
Izrael was one of 150 kids in El Dorado County’s Big Brothers Big Sisters and Court Appointed Special Advocates programs who were treated to the annual Saturday morning Snowball Shopping Spree at Target and a pancake breakfast at Lakehills Church. El Dorado Hills resident T Abraham shopped with the little boy, helping him pick out clothes, Spiderman pajamas, toiletries and, of course, the sword.
“It’s a wonderful event,” said Abraham, who’s volunteered the last three years. “These kids are so grateful … and humble. We spent $75 and he said, ‘I don’t need anymore.'”
Big Brother Mark Bassler of El Dorado Hills joked that guys shouldn’t help guys shop; they lose interest after a while. Actually, Bassler and his little Jason Slife, 12, lost their whole shopping cart during the event. They had to fill one twice. Bassler credited Mountain Democrat photographer Shelly Thorene for their success. She helped them select clothes, accessories and more. Jason also picked up baseballs, a football and a Nerf gun, joking that his brother better learn to duck.
Before or after their bus ride to Target, shoppers, children and their families enjoyed a pancake breakfast prepared by Rotary Club of El Dorado Hills members. Rotarians flipped pancakes, heated sausage and kept juice cups full during the event. Bel Air donated donuts and Starbucks provided coffee.
“All of our members really enjoy this event,” said El Dorado Hills Rotary Club President Coy Baugh. “We enjoy seeing the delighted faces of the children.”
Faces really lit up when Santa Claus and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer walked in. Santa took the time to hear the children’s Christmas lists and he and Rudolph posed for photos.
Representatives from the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Department and El Dorado Hills Fire Department also attended. Children got to meet a K9 officer and explore fire equipment. Funding for the event came from Waste Connections, Freight Solution Providers, the El Dorado Hills Fire Department, Parker Development, a local attorney’s group and El Dorado County Auditor-Controller Joe Harn, who also donned an apron and served up sausage during the breakfast.
Big Brothers Big Sisters case manager Cathie Byrd said the event is a wonderful opportunity for businesses and community members to support programs that help the community’s youth. She noted that Big Brothers Big Sisters is currently looking for volunteer mentors, “especially men.” For more information call 530-626-1222 or visit mentors4youth.org.
For more information about CASA El Dorado call 530-621-6789 or visit casaeldorado.org.