QUINCY -- Along with the perfect gift for everyone on their list, organizers of the annual Kiddie Bazaar hope young shoppers find one important truth about the holiday season.
"The biggest thing we want them to take away is it is as much fun to give a gift as it is to receive one," said Amy Looten, Quincy site coordinator for the bazaar. "Because the kids get to make the decision about the gift, they're thinking about Mom or Dad or Grandma. They're thinking about the recipient. That is the spirit of giving we wish to help them grow into."
Adams County Home and Community Education will sponsor its 31st annual Kiddie Bazaar from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. Saturday at Salem Church Fellowship Hall, 435 S. Ninth in Quincy, the United Methodist Church in Camp Point and Payson-Seymour Elementary School in Payson.
Children in kindergarten through fifth grade are welcome to shop for everyone on their list "in secret" with the help of chaperones. All items are priced from 50 cents to $4.
The bazaar helps youngsters learn about budgeting because they shop "with a list of people and a certain amount of money and they, with help from the volunteers, make sure that money lasts and they have enough for everyone," Looten said.
Children should bring an envelope containing money to spend, a list of gift recipients and nametags for each gift.
"When the kids leave, those presents are ready to go right under the tree," Looten said. "It's a thrill for a child to see Mom and Dad surprised by the gift they give."
HCE units and members work throughout the year to prepare for the bazaar, which offers gifts for men and women, boys and girls, teachers and pets.
"Units have craft nights for months making items for these bazaars, and we have members who watch sales all year round to buy items they can donate to this event," Looten said. "It's a really delicate balance between what would the recipient appreciate and what would appeal to the eyes of a child. Sometimes those aren't the same thing."
HCE members, along with high school service clubs and local 4-H clubs, volunteer to "shop" with youngsters.
"It's a long-standing tradition," Looten said. "We know we're doing something good for the children, and it always makes Christmas more special when children are involved."