One Kenai Peninsula girl is taking the act of Christmas shopping a step further this year and is asking for the community’s help.
Sydney Jeffries of Sterling wants to raise $500, which she’ll use to purchase gifts for children who wouldn’t normally get them. She will accept contributions to her project until Dec. 18.
The act of giving isn’t new for the Kenai Middle School sixth-grader. Her mother, Tricey Katzenberger, spearheads Bear Hugs, an organization that fills backpacks with clothes and other necessities and donates them to students in need. Jeffries and her sister help pack the bags when they can, she said.
“I’m very proud of her,” Katzenberger said. “She’s my sidekick through everything I do. She’s not afraid to talk to people.”
Jeffries began raising money after shopping with her family for children whose names they picked off the Angel Tree, coordinated by the Salvation Army, at Fred Meyer in Soldotna. As of Tuesday, she had raised $205.
This was the family’s first time shopping for children from the Angel Tree, Katzenberger said. In all, they will purchase presents for nine children, she said.
“We went in with intentions of everybody in the family shopping,” she said. “I did explain to the kids that, from my understanding, that typically it’s teenagers that don’t get shopped for as much.”
Jeffries, however, decided to shop for a 2-month-old baby whose name was on the tree.
“I think it’s really sad, you know, that there’s a 2-month-old on the tree,” she said. “And he needed clothes and toys, and that one just … it clicked. That’s my angel.”
When her brother, Logan, said the experience made him want to shop for more children in need, Jeffries ran with the idea. She put together flyers explaining her mission and is sharing the project with as many people as possible, she said.
“For the four kids we shopped for at first, we ended up spending about $200 … so I thought $500 should be good to get a couple of them,” Jeffries said. “It just feels good helping others with this stuff.”
Katzenberger said keeping people involved in giving as they grow from children into young adults is important to keep them tuned into what’s happening in the community around them.
“If I could save all the children, I would do it,” she said. “I can’t save all of the children, I can’t adopt everybody that needs adopting. It can be consuming at times. But … it doesn’t take anything more than … ‘Oh, this kid needs something, lets make sure they get it.’”
To learn more about Jeffries’ project, call Katzenberger at 398-7320.
Reach Megan Pacer at email@example.com.