One by one, groups of two filed into the Kmart on East Broadway, dutifully pushing shopping carts towards the clothing department. On one side, a member of the local Elks Lodge (chapter #2532) with shopping list in hand; on the other, a Steele Elementary student beaming from ear to ear. It was time to get some winter clothes!
The Elks Lodge has been bringing holiday cheer to students in need for the past thirty years, according to member Rich Botkin, who organized the event with Steele. "All our monies are raised through members of our organization," explained Rich, who went on to reveal that over $7,000 went it this year's event.
"They're amazing," exclaimed Kari Toresdahl, a third grade teacher at Steele who coordinated the event with Rich. "They just reached out and they wanted to do it out of the goodness of their hearts."
Toresdahl discussed the particular need in Tucson, where students will often outgrow their seldom-used winter clothes and may not have the funds for new attire. Her enthusiasm for the event and for her students in particular matched those that she brought along to shop.
"I was excited all night--couldn't sleep," Kari admitted, with a chuckle.
"It's our time of year," said Rich, whose wife and two sons also participate in Elks Lodge activities. "These children, they make our year."