Child Spree Brings Joy to Underprivileged Children

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The Mesa County Partners organization reaches out to underprivileged children across the Grand Valley. Saturday, it teamed up with other local groups to make sure they have something to smile about this holiday season.

11-year-old Joanne Rizzuto says she won't be seeing a lot of presents under her family's tree this year.

"For Christmas, we aren't really going to have much," said Rizzuto.

That's just what the Mesa County Partners are trying to change. Forty underprivileged kids in the mentoring and conservation corps programs got to go on a $100 shopping spree at Mervyn's.

"This is the one time they actually get to go pick out everything that they want regardless of the price," said Tammie Rupe, of Mesa County Partners.

Each of the kids was paired with a member of Cummins Rocky Mountain, who helped raise the money the kids got to spend.

For many, it was about experiencing a kind of happiness they don't usually feel.

"It kind of made me feel like I'm actually going to get some nice clothes and I can wear them" said Rizzuto.

For others, it was about building self-esteem and confidence.

"Just having clothes that will make me look more professional, I think it's going to boost me up," said Rachel Helmrichs, one of the lucky shoppers. "It's going to help get me through college interviews and get through interviews for jobs."

By the end of the morning, it was all smiles as the kids rummaged through their bags looking at all their new stuff.

"I've been shopping for some really cute pants of course," said Rizzuto. "You've got to have pants if you're a girl. I also got to pick out some cute shirts."

The volunteers who made the shopping spree possible say that's the way it should be.

"I just hope that they have a Merry Christmas," said Paul Carson, a Cummins Rocky Mountain volunteer. "They need to understand that the community cares and we're all one big family."

It's fair to say the lucky recipients are beginning to understand why it's called the season of giving.

"It really helps us a lot and makes us feel really happy inside," said Rizzuto.

This is the third year the Mesa County Partners and Mervyn's have teamed up for the Child Spree event.

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