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home : education : schools January 20, 2018

12/26/2017 12:07:00 PM
Circle of Friends kids find the reason for the season
Circle of Friends and ZoselHarper Realtors provided an opportunity for Sisters youths to do some Christmas shopping for their family members. photo by Jodi Schneider McNamee
+ click to enlarge
Circle of Friends and ZoselHarper Realtors provided an opportunity for Sisters youths to do some Christmas shopping for their family members. photo by Jodi Schneider McNamee

By Jodi Schneider McNamee

The mission of Circle of Friends, a nonprofit mentoring program in Sisters, is to provide friends/mentors to make sure Sisters' most vulnerable kids develop life skills, social skills, academic success, and their own individual talents.

And last week 15 little friends had the opportunity to express their holiday shopping talents by searching for unique gifts for their families, with gift certificates for Habitat for Humanity Thrift Store donated by ZoselHarper Realtors.

This was the third year that ZoselHarper Realtors sponsored the holiday gift certificates for Circle of Friends children. After each sale, ZoselHarper Realtors donate to any one of five nonprofit organizations, and one of the nonprofits is Circle of Friends.

As the kids shopped they learned it isn't always easy to find the perfect gift, quickly.

But help from their mentors made it a bit easier. Mentor Diane Cooper helped her friend Eva shop for a large family.

"It took time to find the right gift for each of Eva's family members," Cooper said.

With a wide selection of dolls, home décor, jewelry, tools, games, puzzles, clothing and much more, the kids collected items for grandparents, parents, siblings and even the family pet. 

"I think it's really cool the fact that the Habitat Thrift Store has half off everything," Eva said. "It gave us all more options. I enjoyed buying everything my family should have for Christmas this year. I have presents for my two sisters, my brother, my mom, dad and grandma."

Nicky Merritt, Circle of Friends executive director since April, was also on hand to help wrap.

"All the kids and mentors that have done this in the past couple of years were super-excited to be able to buy gifts for their family again," Merritt told The Nugget. "I haven't experienced this until now, and the anticipation for the holiday shopping was so much fun for these kids. They don't have the opportunity to shop without their parents; and with this extra adult/mentor in their life, it's an experience they'll always remember.

"Sisters is a unique community, and it's been wonderful to work with everyone who gives so much for the kids," Merritt added.

Carol Zosel, Realtor and Circle of Friends board member, grew up in a big family with six siblings and remembers what a struggle it was to buy gifts for family members.

"These mentors give three to five hours of their time a week for their little friends. And I think that anything we can do to help support them and to give them an opportunity with their kids is worthwhile," Zosel said.

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