Kids Shop Free event an Island Christmastime tradition

Erwin Thompson of Silver Water, complete with a tie that plays Christmas music, was a volunteer elf at the Trinity United Church Kids Shop for Free event. He is pictured with Brooklyn Dunn of Providence Bay. photo by Betty Bardswich

MINDEMOYA – Trinity United Church in Mindemoya hosted the annual Christmas Kids Shop for Free event on December 7. Kids and their moms and dads were lined up well before the appointed hour to get free presents while inside, church members got everything ready, including coffee and cookies for the parents. Volunteers had arranged the items in different categories and the downstairs of the church was full of articles from end to end.

This was the seventh time that the church held this shopping spree. It was the late estimable Marion Seabrook who first entertained the idea that kids could pick out gifts for their parents, grandparents, siblings, aunties and uncles at a Christmas event at the church. But that was not all. Santa’s Christmas elves would then wrap each gift. The children who come to shop are aged 12 and under and they make out a Christmas list of who they want to buy for. They hand this to elves Elsie Christien and Marion Sloss at the door, get a ticket for each person on the list and start to shop along with a volunteer who helps them choose wisely.

And what an outstanding number of gifts there were. 

“I am delighted and awed by how much there is,” Santa’s elf Ms. Sloss said. “People donated from all over the Island. And businesses too.” 

There were books, puzzles, skates, stuffed toys, beautiful scarves for mom, puzzles, board games, jewellery, a 50 piece Super Wheels set and many other items. Of particular note was the very large number of signs that artist Teri Elgie of Gore Bay donated. Ms. Elgie, with assistance from her husband Bob, makes signs every year for sale at the Island’s summer and Christmas craft shows, at veterinary businesses and at Loco Beanz coffee shops for Manitoulin Pet Rescue. This year she also donated to this event and some of the signs read ‘Mom, you’re the best,’ ‘best dad ever,’ ‘I’d rather be fishing,’ ‘hockey family’ and ‘Island Time.’

This event doesn’t just make the children and their parents happy, but the volunteers have a great time too, including Lynda Belton, who has volunteered each year, and Reverend Erwin Thompson of Silver Water who was wearing a tie that makes Christmas music and who was delighted to be part of the event. 

“The look on the children’s faces make it all worthwhile,” he told The Expositor. “The smiles, the twinkles in their eyes.”

This event was a very well-organized and successful Christmas shopping experience for everyone. “I think it is wonderful,” said Janet James who lives in Providence Bay. 

Merry Christmas from the Trinity United Church in Mindemoya.