It might have been on hiatus last year, like many things in 2020, but the Crow River Girl Scouts are back this holiday season with their 2021 Children’s Holiday Shopping Mall that allows the Crow River Girl Scout troops to sell gifts to other children to buy for their family and friends. The event will be 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 4 at St. Michael-Albertville Middle School West.
At the event, children can go to booths manned by Girl Scouts and buy gifts for their families that will then be wrapped and tagged for them to take home. Children who come to the shop will have 10 minutes per room where there will be around four booths per room between four different rooms. The booths will have handmade and store-bought gifts that range from 25 cents to $5.
“All the proceeds go to the girls and they get to use it for their troop, whether it’s field trips or different supplies for projects they might want to do,” said Amy Hasher, volunteer Troop 18543 leader and Girl Scouts’ Holiday Shopping Mall organizer..
In the past, parents were able to get massages while they waited for their kids to shop, everyone was able to be in one big room and in the hallways at once. The Women of Today came and participated and the Girl Scouts were able to sell baked goods to raise additional money for their troops.
This year though due to COVID restrictions, the booths will be spread out throughout rooms and children who wish to come and shop must sign up in advance for time slots. No baked goods will be available for sale and parents must wait for their kids outside of the Holiday Shopping Mall area to allow for numbers in each room to stay down.
“In the past, we had a lot of additional activities. This year we had to scale a lot back due to the restrictions we have to follow via Girl Scouts,” Hasher said. “We have to have masks on and we can’t have groups of more than 25.”
Once the children are done shopping, parents will be called to pick up their kids who will be escorted by their shopping assistant. Santa will still be there this year for pictures with the kids. Parents will be allowed to enter with the kids for pictures with Santa.
“It’s the littles that come in and shop and shop on their own and pick out something with their own money, that’s the joy,” Hasher said.
All troops who are Brownies and above can participate in the event. The Girl Scouts who participate as shopping assistants and walk the kids through their shopping experience are fifth graders and above.
“The Girl Scouts assist them with their shopping, so they’ll kind of help guide them so they’re not buying dad nail polish,” Hasher said.
A total of 35 girls so far are signed up to be shopping assistants. “I like helping the kids use their money to pick out gifts,” shopping assistant Londyn Hasher, 10, said. “They get excited about picking stuff out.”
Shopping assistant Olivia Reinhart, 10, has found that those she has helped in the past do not just get the joy of picking out gifts, but learn valuable skills as well. “They learn better social skills from talking to the people that they don’t know,” she said. “They learn about money and negotiating.”
Things that kids can buy at the Holiday Shopping Mall can also be one-of-a-kind gifts that are made by the Girl Scouts.
“It’s not just little junk stuff, there’s a lot of really cool items,”Hasher said. “The girls really do put in a lot of time to make sure their booths are fun and festive.”
Some of those handcrafted items are an Olaf character made out of socks, washer necklaces, wine bottle Santas and more. “It’s fun to see how creative some of these girls get,” Hasher said. “It amazes me how creative and crafty these girls are that they make the stuff that they do.”
Albertville parent Jennifer Bauer has been taking her sons to the Holiday Shopping Mall for years and thinks it is a joy to her kids. “The Girl Scouts put so much thought into each one of their shopping tables and the assortment of items is amazing,” she said. “We parents do not have to worry about them overspending, each child gets a shopping partner to help them with their list and budget so that everyone on the list gets a gift. The joy that this brings to my boys to have everyone open their gifts on Christmas morning that they thought long and hard about getting for us, is priceless.”
Hasher hopes that everything will go back to full swing next year, but is glad they can be open this year. As of Nov. 19, over 50 people are signed up to shop, but time slots are still available. To sign up to shop go to https://bit.ly/3FAtLzs.
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