Smiles lit up the faces of 35 Roadrunner Elementary students as Elks Lodge volunteers helped them shop for $140 worth of clothing and shoes on Dec. 1, at J.C. Penney in the Tucson Mall.
“The best thing about this is the faces of children getting brand new things that belong to them,” said Joyce Garcia, the event co-chairperson at Catalina Mountain Elks Lodge. “Every dime goes to the kids. We believe in kids.”
Catalina Mountain Elks Lodge helps support children throughout the area by giving out scholarships or donating and sponsoring events. Ernest Cruce, the Exalted Ruler at Elks Lodge, came to the event for the first time this year. Another big contributor to helping make the event possible was Bobby Hurt, another event co-chairperson.
This year, they raised $6,000 to once again bless a group of students from Roadrunner Elementary School for the Christmas season. Volunteers are paired up with a student and shop the store with them until all of their $140 is used up.
One year, Elks Lodge had leftover money and used it to buy Roadrunner Elementary needed art supplies. Liz Armenta, now a retired principal from the school, said that the school was very blessed by this act as the teachers usually have to pay out of their own pockets for art supplies.
J.C. Penney Assistant Store Manager, Judy Riddell, said that they have partnered with Elk’s Lodge for a number of years and are glad they can help these children out.
“All our team here loves it when they come,” said Riddell. “We show them where the best priced racks are. Nothing beats children charity this time of year.”
After the students finished shopping, they were taken to the Elks Lodge in Catalina where they were fed lunch and a fire truck brought Santa and Mrs. Clause to visit them. Other activities involved a gift from Santa as well as a picture with Mr. and Mrs. Clause, along with some games and a stocking full of toys and school supplies.
With arms full, the students left Elks Lodge with an abundance of gifts to start the Christmas season off right.