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Kiwanis, Santa make holidays bright for kids

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The Rocklin Kiwanis Club believes it is better to give than to receive, and they proved their point Saturday by taking 131 youngsters shopping at the local Kmart. It was the 16th year of taking care of school kids who might not have a cheery holiday season. The tradition is called K Kids at Kmart. Youngsters were escorted through the store with volunteer shopping aides to help them. The shopping spree started at 7 a.m. before the store opened to the public. Parents remained in a holding area where coffee and doughnuts were served. “This event is strictly for the kids,” said Gene Johnson, Kiwanian and chairperson.  Each child got to choose $60 worth of whatever they desired. They started their morning by being greeted by Santa Claus and two elves called Jingle and Jangle. In real life the elves are two Kiwanis Club members Cynthia Weems and Cynthia Sindrey. Santa resembled Kiwanian Jim Walsh, immediate past president of the club. Sue Fisher, manager of Kmart, gave the youngsters a discount of 20 percent, making their purchases even greater. The 100-plus kids swarmed throughout the store, many heading for the toy department, others choosing clothing. There were approximately 200 volunteers on duty, including members of Key Clubs from Rocklin, Del Oro and Whitney high schools. Also on duty were members of Circle K Club from Sierra College, members of the HOGs, a Harley Motorcycle group, and friends of Kiwanis. Kiwanis made up the difference in costs through its See’s Candy sales effort, now going on at the corner of Sunset Boulevard and Park Drive in Rocklin. The shopping spree is the biggest public service event for the Rocklin Kiwanis Club, approaching $8,000 in costs. The event has been supported since its start in 1994 by the Rocklin Firefighters Association. Other sponsors this year were Nationwide, Thunder Valley Casino and Chrome Divas (special members of Harley Owners Group). New to the program this year was the availability of Spanish-speaking shopper aides for those students with English as a second language.