The groups were split up between the Walmart and Meijer stores in Grand Haven Township, with both stores contributing funds to help with the event. Organizer Sgt. Derek Gerencer of the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office said the Wigginton Foundation also sponsored 10 of the children who shopped at Walmart.
Sarah Elliott, the homeless liaison for the Grand Haven school district, screened the children for the event.
“The kids are from all aspects of the school system, as well as cyber school, home schools and charter schools,” she said.
Each child received $75 to shop for Christmas gifts for their family members and for themselves. A volunteer from one of the emergency services held onto the money and accompanied each child, helping him or her make selections that fit within their budget.
Ruby Kennedy, 10, who was shopping with victim advocate Joyce Ruster, said she was going to spend all of the money on herself.
Alexis, 8, who was with her grandmother, Bonnie Carnell, also planned to shop for herself. When she was found later in another part of the store, Grand Haven Township Fire Chief Tom Gerencer was helping her select a gift for her father. The shopping cart was also filled with gifts for other family members.
Related: See more photos from the event at the Tribune photo gallery.