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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, November 30, 2012

Clothe-A-Child shopping trip one of season's best gifts

She made it clear from the very start.
No pink.
Of course, I forgot countless times, but she always reminded me, “I said I don’t like pink.”
My 6-year-old friend prefers black.
When you find something in common with the youngsters you’re shopping for, Clothe-A-Child trips go much more smoothly.
I usually can milk their school and family experiences for the first part of our journey, but after they’ve already told me about their favorite class and their brothers and sisters’ names, it tends to get a little quiet.
Clothe-A-Child provides warm clothing and shoes to needy children ages 5 to 14 in Lake and Geauga counties. And, for two consecutive weekends, I had the pleasure of escorting two wee ones around Payless ShoeSource and Sears at Great Lakes Mall as they picked out new items.
They couldn’t have been more different.
I’ll call Sarah a fashionista. It took a while to nail down her likes and dislikes, but I finally figured out that she didn’t like any “embellishments” on clothing.
So, there were no embroidered designs on jeans. No flowers sewn on tops. And, as I said before, absolutely no pink.
The following week, while I was hanging out with Emily, the goal was clear from the start.
She wanted a dress.
After saying she’s never had a dress, she immediately locked onto a rack of shimmery, lacy and puffy numbers in all the colors of Christmas.
There was plaid and there was green. There was white with sequins and a little bolero jacket. And, there was a red one with a furry belt, collar and cuffs that she called the “Santa dress.”
Looking on the sheet provided by her mom, I realized all the Santa dresses were way too big for my tiny, 5-year-old friend.
She tried to bargain.
“It can be long, I don’t care.”
I fell back on old reliable, telling her “I don’t think your mom would be very happy if we bought you a dress you can only wear for one day.”
Emily was dogged in her pursuit of that dress.
She held up a few that I’d describe as “slinky.” I had to wonder why they’d make dresses like that for such little ones.
Every time we ended up in that area, I’d manage to turn her around to focus back on the items her mom deemed necessary — uniforms for school, some “skinny” jeans, and a few outfits in which the tops and leggings matched.
Then, finally, realizing we had more money to spend, we dug into the dresses and pulled out a white one with ruching in the bodice and waves of cascading ruffles leading down from a black bow around the waist. It was topped with an attached black bolero jacket.
When she opened the fitting room door, I couldn’t help but remember that feeling when I tried on the dress I wore for my wedding.
What they say is true — when it’s the right one, you know it.
“Do you like it?”
She answered in the only possible acceptable way.
She twirled around and laughed as it made the shape of a bell in the air.
I’ve said it before, and I’m sure it’ll come out again, but Christmas really is for the kids.
And one of my best gifts this year will be Emily’s smile and the way she ran to her mom downstairs after we finished our trip and just about screamed, “Mommy, I got a dress!”
It’s a little early, but I want to wish Sarah and Emily a Merry Christmas. And, I want to thank them for already proving that my holiday season is pretty special.
In its first 31 years, Clothe-A-Child collected $3,626,838.68. Donations are accepted year-round, and so far this year, generous donors had already provided almost $20,000 for shopping trips to Sears and Payless ShoeSource at Great Lakes Mall. The program is self-sustaining. All money raised goes to purchase clothing for area youngsters. The News-Herald covers all of the charity’s administrative costs. To donate, send checks addressed to Clothe-A-Child, Attn.: Lisa Migliorini, The News-Herald, 7085 Mentor Ave., Willoughby OH 44095. Please indicate how you wish to have your name listed in our donor’s list.
Twitter: @Lauranh


Anonymous ctkozar said...

I really enjoyed your column on Clothe-a-Child--I can definitely relate, as I have been a shopper for well over 20 years (maybe 30?); I haven't kept an accurate count. I've taken a boy and a girl shopping this season, and am ready to do my 3rd shop this month. That dress you described was on the rack when I shopped with the the 7-year old girl--I thought it would look great on her, but her rule was "no dresses, no skirts." She also was the opposite of your Sarah--she wanted "embellishments" on everything--she was such fun!! You are absolutely right--the best gift is the smile on the child we've shopped with. I feel blessed that I can continue to help with Clothe-a-Child every year. Merry Christmas!!

December 2, 2012 at 7:15 PM 

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