KATIE SEIBEL and other members of Sandymount United Methodist Church's senior high Sunday school class received a crash course in frugal shopping this month after they adopted two families through Neighbors in Need and fulfilled the families' wish lists.
Their lesson began with fund raising. Through bake sales, a church collection and one action-packed day of babysitting, they raised more than $700 for gifts and groceries.
Katie sifted through advertisements to find the best bargains and then rolled out of bed Black Friday at 4:45 a.m. to shop. She and her classmates bought mittens, coats, Christmas trees, balls, Barbie dolls, a scooter, games, a Game Boy and much more.
They were delighted to find that they could buy a 24-pound turkey for $4.
"We wanted to get as many presents as possible with the money," said Katie. "It's amazing how quickly the funds could be spent, but we did well."
Over the past few weeks, the youths have pored over lists, shopped, wrapped and worried about the answers to such questions as: Do all of the children have the same number of gifts? Will they be surprised? Will their day be filled with joy?
"It has been exciting to watch them take charge and follow through," said Shearl Seibel, Katie's mother. "And I know that Katie found it rewarding to stand in line on busy shopping days, and know that her efforts would bring others joy."
The youths wrapped presents on several Sundays during the time that was set aside for Sunday school, and drafted their teachers, Brad and Robyn Gilden, to help.
"This is a group of motivated kids. This really has been their idea," said Robyn Gilden. "Brad and I have been supportive, and it has been great to watch them realize the importance of giving and taking time to help others."
Deliveries to the two local families are expected to be complete by the end of this week.
"I like knowing that we have made someone else's Christmas better and that we have made it easier for parents by giving them one less thing to worry about," said Nicole Goge, a sophomore at Winters Mill High School.
Other classmates who helped shop, wrap and deliver gifts included: Sara Tenney, Marie Brooks, Randall Talvik and Jessica Lewis.
Giving and receiving
The Saturday and Sunday before Christmas, 2 percent of the sales at the Pour House Cafe will go to the United Way of Carroll County as part of its Feasts for Charity program.
"We're hoping weary shoppers will rest their feet, sip eggnog lattes, purchase handmade holiday gifts, and listen to good music for a good cause," said Janet Hollinger, Pour House's proprietor.
The cafe features gift cards, jewelry, pottery, stained glass and soaps that are handmade by local artists.
The Pour House Cafe is at 233 E. Main St. in Westminster. Saturday and Sunday hours are 7 a.m. until 11 p.m. Information: 410-751-9171.
Westminster resident Chaeli Cantwell, 17, honors her grandmother, Jean Vent of Taneytown, as her Living Treasure this week.
"She has been a supportive parental figure in my life, and I will never forget how she is always willing to help me out," said Chaeli. "It helps that she is witty. She can make me laugh regardless of any situation."
Brighten the day of someone who has made a positive difference in your life. Send in a name and specific reasons why someone has been your living treasure to: Lisa Breslin, 35 Ridge Road, Westminster 21157. Or call, 410-848-4703.
Lisa Breslin's Central neighborhood column appears each Monday in the Carroll County edition of The Sun.