It's an event that's brought smiles to thousands of families in Northeast Missouri for more than 25 years.
Monday, hundreds of Pike County, Mo. families packed into the Bowling Green Walmart. The Elks Lodge in Louisiana provided children in need with a special shopping spree just 8 days before Christmas...totaling a whopping $25,000."It's great to have the Elks Club and places like that, because sometimes the parents can't always provide what the children need. Even though we may have full-time jobs, we all have hardships and this year has been especially hard for us," Pamela Campbell, a Louisiana mom said.
Campbell spent the evening shopping with her daughter Kela, who was one of 425 kids in Pike County selected for this annual Christmas shopping event.
"I'm not surprised to see this many people," Danielle Greene, another Louisiana mom said.
Greene says this event gets bigger every year. Monday hit a new record. As children and their parents hit the racks, you didn't find them pulling toys or games into their cart.
"I'm shopping for clothes," 10-year-old Kela Campbell said.
Each child received $60 worth of clothes and shoes.
"Especially with these kids, they go through shoes like crazy. With her, she goes through a pair every two months. So, it's really hard to keep up with that," Pamela Campbell said.
These families had a game plan. Many came hours early to scout out the racks, checking items off their list and adding it all up.
"They like it. There's some stuff they didn't want me to pick but I choose for them," Greene said.
Some parents left the kids at home and used this time to do their Christmas shopping for their little ones.
It was a sight to see for many of the Elks Lodge members at the check-out lanes.
"You see a lot of smiles and hugs and a lot of 'Merry Christmas' and it's really enjoyable. It's great to be able to do this," Brett Harrelson, an Elks Lodge member said.
The funds from Monday night's event come from the Trimble Trust Fund in Louisiana, which also gives to many non-profit organizations throughout Pike County, Mo.