Kids go on shopping spree

By Tonya Fennell: CNJ staff writer

A huge bone-in ham topped the Christmas list for one local youngster.

The 12-year-old boy was one of 102 local children who were treated to an early morning Christmas shopping spree by the Fraternal Order of Eagles.

The large group — made up of Eagles members, adult volunteers and local third-, fourth- and fifth-graders — converged on Clovis’ Wal-Mart at 6 a.m. Sunday.

Clovis resident Frank Romero, who has been an Eagle since 1988, said the children are each given $100 to spend during the annual event.

“We interview the parents and kids at the house to determine if they should be allowed to go on the shopping spree,” Romero said. “They can get anything they want.”

Rep. Jose Campos, D-Santa Rosa, attended the early morning event and served as chaperone for the ham-seeking youth.

“He said it (ham) reminded him of the one in Dr. Seuss,” said Campos, who represents Curry and Roosevelt counties, “so even though it was pricey, he just had to have it.”

The young shopper was searching for a video game, but Campos said the unavailability of a clerk led the pair to the grocery aisle.

“He bought four big cans of ravioli with meatballs,” Campos said, “because he said he never gets the kind with meat at home.”

Besides the ham and pasta, the young boy purchased two cases of soup to feed his family and an outfit and gloves for his sister. Lacking the funds to purchase the much-wanted video game, Campos said the boy instead chose to buy a pair tennis shoes for himself.

Campos later purchased the video game for the youth, he said.

“It (shopping experience) was amazing,” Campos said. “He (young shopper) was awesome.”

Although the children have free rein to choose items, Romero said it is rare for children to choose gifts for themselves.

“The majority of them buy for their parents and siblings first,” he said.

Samone Betancourt was one of the shoppers who chose to buy presents for her family as well. The Cameo Elementary fifth-grader said she used her money to purchase gifts for her family first.

“I got presents for six people in my family and one for my teacher,” she said, “and then I bought me some slippers because my socks are uncomfortable.”

Campos said the selflessness of the children touched him deeply and reminded him of the true meaning of Christmas.

“This is one experience I will never forget,” Campos said. “I got my heart served to me on a platter.”