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Laura Kessel is managing editor of The News-Herald in Willoughby. She writes a weekly column and shares her thoughts here.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Humor from little ones a joy at the mall

Kids are funny.

And, yes, I mean amusing.

What’s more funny is that they don’t even realize how amusing they are.

At this time of year, you hear a lot from kids.

The wit is never-ending.

At the mall, it’s fascinating to see the way they lobby for purchase of goods. Nearly begging, they rationalize that they need it now because of some major trauma they’re enduring currently.

On stage at school, there’s always the one kid who won’t sing or say his lines, despite prompting from teachers, fellow performers and even mom and dad in the audience. They stand, despite hours of practice, with a deer-in-the-headlights look as the rest of their group delivers their holiday message.

A friend of mine has been assembling letters to Santa for her publication and sharing one each day on her Facebook page. One of my favorites came last week from Franco: “Is it OK if i leave you Cheetos instead of cookies this year?”

She also posted one from a young lady who asked Santa for a faster Internet connection. I’m with her on that one!

I’ve spent a good deal of time with kids lately, too. But mine has involved something that I love — shopping!

Who doesn’t like a nice long shopping trip where you can spend $240?

The trips I’m taking are part of Clothe-A-Child, which is The News-Herald’s holiday charity in which needy area youngsters receive warm clothes and shoes.

They hit Payless ShoeSource and Sears at Great Lakes Mall with a volunteer shopper (in this case, me) and pick up the items they need, including coats, boots and stuff to wear to school.

This year, I’ve taken two 10-year-olds who loved jeans and the color blue.

Neither one wanted a sweater, but both insisted on cartoon character pajamas.

And, unfortunately for a shopper like me, asked if we were done about a half-hour in. I could have gone on four more hours!

There’s never any whining, though. That’s probably because I start asking questions when they seem restless.

“What’s your favorite subject in school?”

“None of them.”

“How about recess?”

“Recess is good.”

The shopping trips usually start with a couple of hints from Mom about what the youngster really needs. I ask about school uniforms, and we discuss what’s on the banned list.

On my most recent visit to Sears, a mom asked if she could go along, because her son is very shy. I told her it was against the rules, and assured her that we’d be OK when we were shopping. He let go of his mom’s hand, and we headed to Payless for some snow boots.

“Laces or Velcro?”

“I like laces.”

“Just checking.”

He picked up a pair of black tennis shoes, and I asked him if he would say those were skateboard shoes. He thought a minute and said, “Yeah, I guess you could call them skateboard shoes.”

After that moment, that little guy I met when he stood tucked behind mom never stopped talking. He hefted bags filled with his new clothes as we moved back down the escalator despite the fact that they seemed bigger than him.

“Your mom said you were shy. You’re not shy!”

“I can be sometimes.”

I’ll get two more of these trips this weekend as Clothe-A-Child continues to work through the hundreds of kids in Lake, Geauga and Ashtabula counties whose families need help keeping warm.

Trips like mine are made possible by generous donors who support the program. All funds raised go to the children. The News-Herald covers all administrative costs for Clothe-A-Child.

This year marks the charity’s 31st year of helping area children. In all, more than $3.5 million has been raised.

But the need continues, and children like my young friends are examples of those who will receive help this year.

I’ll be at Sears all weekend helping kids just like them find just the right cartoon character, and figure out if they’re a husky or a slim.

Either way, I’m sure they’ll make me smile. Just like always.
Twitter: @Lauranh


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