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Children learn the joys of giving at Wilsonville Shriners' event by shopping for others

This story has been updated from its original version.

For many children — who typically lack purchasing power — Christmas is an opportunity to receive the toys they've coveted since their last birthday. And for many parents, busy shopping center trips and considerable investments consume the holiday season. SPOKESMAN PHOTOS: COREY BUCHANAN - Al Kader Shriners members helped children pick out items for their parents at Target during the gift-giving event Tuesday, Dec. 19.

But Tuesday, Dec. 19, Al Kader Shriners in Wilsonville, a fraternity supporting Shriners Hospital for Children, flipped this dynamic on its head. The fraternity inaugurated an event where disadvantaged children purchased gifts for their parents and, in turn, experienced the joy of giving.

After eating a hearty meal that included chili dogs at the Shriners facility in Wilsonville, 10 children ages 8-10 shopped at Target and purchased $25 worth of gifts per parent.

Al Kader Shriners member Roger Bishop said the event was paid for by the Oriental Band unit within Shriners. Target, meanwhile, provided a 10 percent discount.

Bishop thought of the idea for the event based on a similar affair hosted by the Albany Junior Chamber of Commerce.

"I was just sitting here one night, happened to think of it and brought it up to the club and they all went for it so we're hoping it grows," Bishop said. "I just wanted to help the kids. That's what we do."

And Bishop enlisted Toy & Joy Compassion In Action of Clackamas County — a volunteer-run nonprofit organization that collects and distributes toys for low-income families at Christmas — to identify the children selected to participate.

Toy & Joy Compassion in Action of Clackamas County volunteer Darlene Fritsche says, for children, providing gifts is an underrated Christmas component.

"We as parents worry about the kids having and don't think about that," she said. "I think it's important to them to be able to recognize their parents and to feel like they contributed something."

And Fritsche, who attended the Shriners event, appreciated seeing the children's' excitement prior to the Target run.

"I mean, look at their faces. They've been so excited about this for a week," she said. "Their parents are saying they're just talking about it over and over. The ability to go out and shop for mom and dad, it's important to the kids."

Along with experiencing the spirit of giving, the kids received two gifts apiece — which resulted from the Shriners annual Children's Christmas party that takes place two days after Thanksgiving.

"We're lucky to have this," Bishop said of the extra gifts. "We didn't have to pay for any of this. This was all given to us."

After the inaugural gift-giving event, Bishop said Shriners could expand the age range of participating children and implement other tweaks in the future. Bishop also said other Shriners units have inquired about the event and may implement a similar occasion next year.

"Everything went well. There were glitches but nothing we can't fix. Everybody was really happy," Bishop said. "I hope that we get to do it next year and maybe we can get more people."

An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported Roger Bishop's name.

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