Want something to warm up with? Mike’s photos of Deserving Children’s Shopping Tour

WNLP column and photos by Mike Kellems
(Photos appear below column)
Worlds collided Tuesday night, Dec. 10, 2019, in La Porte County. Young children (more than 200), firemen, teachers, government leaders, police officers, moms and dads. They all came together for the 49th annual Deserving Children’s Shopping Tour. Hundreds of volunteer chaperones gathered children from across La Porte County, took them to meet Santa and receive some early Christmas gifts and a meal, before trekking to Wal Mart for a shopping spree.

Mike Kellems

Children from elementary schools in the New Prairie, Westville, Wanatah, South Central and La Porte districts are selected and get sent off with shopping lists that include clothes and, of course, toys. Volunteers who have participated over the years have told how the children will often insist on buying gifts for their siblings and parents before choosing anything for themselves. In true Christmas spirit, it is also common for the chaperones to add a few (many) of their own dollars to the $125 given each child.

The funds raised each year come from a variety of donations; however, the bulk of the money comes from fundraising efforts by the La Porte County Realtors and the incredibly popular and wildly successful “Deserving Children’s Roof Sit.” For nearly two decades now, local disc jockey Dennis Siddall crawls up on the roof of the WCOE radio station and for three days makes a plea for donations. How successful, you ask? Tens of thousands of dollars are raised in a little less than 72 hours.
It speaks well of a community that pulls together a program such as the DCST. It has been planned, directed and prepared for many decades by the La Porte Jaycees. The same great people that bring you the phenomenal 4th of July Parade and the fantastic fireworks. They work diligently in the winter months to bring a lot of joy and happiness to hundreds of La Porte County’s youngsters. And, just when you thought they’d done enough, Wednesday evening they’ll do it all over again for children in Michigan City. All told, more than 500 children will be taken shopping this year.
In the Bible, Jesus is quoted as saying, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” Doing the Lord’s work in the shadows of the Holiday season so that children will have a happy and joyous Christmas … not bad for a few hours of volunteer work.

What kid doesn’t want to be greeted by Storm Troopers wearing Christmas lights?

CJ and Dan Kesling check out a young man’s new pair of gloves.

The South Central Softball program always provides a group of student athletes to help chaperone. Here they are pictured with their coach, Tony Wallace, who also doubles as a patrol sergeant for the sheriff’s department.


As you’d expect, there’s always a line to see Santa!

The Hamburglar would have a field day at this table! Young shoppers started their evening off with a great selection of food.


The first order of business was to stop by and get a backpack occupied by with a friendly stuff animal!

That’s a lot of clothes! The chaperone had three young girls he was shopping with and they made the most of their trip in the clothing department!

Gina Alber goes over a well prepared shopping list with her young shopper.

Chris Alber,the principal at Riley Elementary, oversees the selection of a warm winter coat.

This duo of shoppers looks over a wide selection of school supplies.


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