Sale offers gifts priced for young shoppers' budgets Del. firm provides items under $6.50

December 13, 1992|By Sherrie Ruhl | Sherrie Ruhl,Staff Writer

Emily Dobash sidled up to the table and carefully considered the merchandise. This was going to be a tough decision. Would her mother prefer the tastefully understated multistring pearls or the simple yet elegant gold rope chain?

Eventually, Emily decided on a plastic letter-opener topped with a shiny plastic duck. "Look, there's a pencil sharpener in the duck's tummy," said Emily, who lives in Edgewood.

And the price, $1.50, was just right for an 8-year-old on a budget. The "pearls" and "gold chain" were a little steeper, $3 and $3.50.

Students at William Paca/Old Post Road Elementary School in Abingdon got the ultimate in holiday shopping convenience. The PTA set up tables in the gyms so the 1,164 students could choose gifts for relatives and friends.

"This is not a fund-raiser for us. We wanted to do something that would be fun for children," said Pat Benedict, PTA president. The PTA will return any unsold merchandise to the supplier.

The merchandise came from a fund-raising company, Visions of Sugar Plums, in Wilmington, Del.

"Most PTAs use the holiday shop as a festive thing, not a way to raise money," said co-owner Andrea Schweitzer.

The company sells to 45 schools in Delaware, Pennsylvania and Maryland. William Paca/Old Post Road is the company's first school in Harford County. Nationally, the average sale is $8.

"Most kids are shopping for moms, dads, grandparents or brothers and sisters," said Kim Shumaker, chairwoman of the fund raiser and holiday shop committee.

"The kids have really stretched their money as far as it can go."

Jewelry proved popular for mothers, she said, while kids preferred

miniature tool sets or tiny tape measures for fathers.

"These are really popular," Mrs. Shumaker said, holding up a hot pink squishy ball. "So far, we've sold five boxes of 36 balls each. Most kids are buying them for brothers and sisters."

The sponge balls, about the size of tennis balls, cost $1.25.

Items at the school's holiday shop sold for 25 cents to $6.50. Most children brought in $5 to $10, Mrs. Benedict said.

The PTA sent letters home to parents, along with a small white envelope to hold money. Parents could mark the envelopes with the number of gifts the kids could buy and how much they could spend on each gift. The children shopped in groups of seven or eight.

Emily spent $9 of her $10 on eight presents. "This is a good place to shop because things don't cost as much as they usually do," the savvy shopper said. She said she would still have to buy some items at a regular store.

"This makes kids feel really good about themselves," Principal Thomas C. McShane said of the holiday shop. "They can buy something for mom or dad that they picked out themselves."

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