Jackson County

Children experience the joy of giving to others

KAREN NELSON/SUN HERALD 
 Debra Holeman, 7, foreground, looks at electronics while program counselor Garret White, background, watches over children in the Visions of Sugarplums program, where each child has $300 to spend on their families and themselves for Christmas.
KAREN NELSON/SUN HERALD Debra Holeman, 7, foreground, looks at electronics while program counselor Garret White, background, watches over children in the Visions of Sugarplums program, where each child has $300 to spend on their families and themselves for Christmas.

PASCAGOULA -- Garret White takes his group of kids to the department store's clothing aisles first, because the toys are too tempting.

After they pick out a few outfits for Mom and Dad or sisters and brothers, then they can hit the toys and electronics.

The 24 children, nominated by elementary schools in the Pascagoula-Gautier School District, each received $300 to spend Wednesday with the idea of buying for others for Christmas.

One 7-year-old declared his mother said she didn't want anything, so he would buy everything for himself. He was getting a scooter and an electronic tablet.

No, White said, it doesn't work like that. The boy will pick out things for himself, he said, but not with all of his money.

The program is Visions of Sugarplums, and the city of Pascagoula has been coordinating it for years.

Steve and Gloria Jordan, owners of Turf Masters Lawn Care, fund the program and at the heart of it is learning to give.

In a statement to the city, Jordan said he is encouraged about the future when he watches these children learn to unselfishly buy gifts for someone other than themselves.

The idea is also to help families in need through the holidays. The city's spokeswoman Anne Pitre calls it a bright spot around Thanksgiving.

White was a temporary worker for the city Parks & Recreation Department when he first helped with the Visions program. He came back from college in Hattiesburg this year to help again because he believes in it.

"It's so much fun watching their faces," he said. "They get so excited."

But guidance is so important. Last year, he said, a boy wanted to buy toys for everyone in the family, but his mother had clothes on her list.

After a morning of shopping, the children and their companions went to Raising Cane's for lunch. Crazy B's Coffee and Confections provided desserts for the children to take home for Thanksgiving dinner.

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