Experience has taught Will Power that while being one of the Meijer shopping elves he doesn't have to impart "it's better to give than to receive" to his charges.
The Team Penske driver on Dec. 10 participated in the program that each year benefits 40 underserved youth from Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Central Indiana and their families. Each of the children ages 6-10 receive a $200 gift card courtesy of the retailer to purchase holiday gifts. Additionally, they receive a $20 gift card to purchase an item for the Toys for Tots campaign.
"It's definitely great to go around the store with the kids and help them pick out Christmas gifts for their moms and dads," said Power, who donned a Santa hat while cruising the electronics, toys and clothing aisles. "I make sure they have their brothers and sisters in mind before they get too much for themselves. The kids are great though. It's just a cool thing to do and great that Meijer puts this on every year."
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It's the fourth year that Team Penske has been involved in the program. Power was joined by Indianapolis Colts running back Vick Ballard, linebacker Lawrence Sidbury and center Thomas Austin. The pro athletes, along with volunteers from Meijer and Big Brothers, Big Sisters, helped the children track their expenses and make smart decisions about their purchases. Clothing sizes and a wish list were provided by families in advance.
Siblings Gavin and Nicole Dickey guided Power directly to the gaming display cases, where they made a selection for their older brother. Then it was on to the toy section, which was crammed with shopping carts of other participants, to pick up a scooter, football and Nerf firepower. Pajamas were next on the list.
"It's fun to do, to see the excitement of the kids," Power added, "and it gets me exciting for the holidays, too."
The group started the evening with a pizza party and autographs from and photos with the pro athletes.