Two weeks from now, it will be Christmas morning. On Tuesday, some secret shoppers at Walmart in Windsor Heights made sure dozens of total strangers will have something to open.
“It’s really emotional, knowing that we are helping kids that may not get anything,” said Angie Carter.
“We want to make sure we are getting the families that need the help, so that`s basically why we keep coming back every year, help them out and make sure we get what they want,” said Joe Carter, who has been doing this for three years.
The goal is to give gifts to military families, as well as other Des Moines area families, who otherwise can't afford them. The event was started three years ago, with just a few Waukee American Legion Riders and about 30 kids. This year, the group has grown to more than a dozen shoppers, armed with the lists of 80 children. But that doesn't mean they only have 80 gifts to shop for: each child gets $150 worth of toys, clothes or games.
While organizers say they are glad to see the program expanding, they still can't reach all the families that need help this time of year.
“It’s not overwhelming yet, it’s more of a challenge when it gets like that for me, but I want it to get bigger because the need is there,” said Cindy Barnes, who started the program.
Organizers say, in order to add more children to their lists, they say they need, not only more donations, but more sponsors for the program. Their goal next year is to serve 100 kids.