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Article updated: 12/12/2012 3:05 PM

Fremont Elementary students shop for needy kids, learn about being charitable

By Russell Lissau

Hoping to bring needy families some Christmas cheer, about 125 Fremont Elementary School students invaded Mundelein's Target store in search of presents Wednesday morning.

Accompanied by parents and teachers and armed with shopping lists, the kids -- all from the school's multi-age classrooms -- scoured the store for books, clothes, toys and other gifts.

Parent Ann Schueneman chaperoned a group of six girls who were shopping for a toddler.

"We can get her diapers," one student said excitedly.

"What about shoes?" another added.

Eventually, Schueneman, of Hawthorn Woods, came up with a winner.

"Should we do a book for her parents to read to her?" she suggested.

Fremont students have been shopping for area families at Christmas for 16 years. The students collect money that goes into a central pot and is then divided equally for the recipients.

This year, each group of students got $60 to spend on gifts. Some leftover money will be used to purchase gift cards that will be donated to the Fremont Township food pantry, organizer and teacher Chris Bratta said.

The annual field trip is one of the most popular events in the multi-age program, Bratta said.

Eight-year-old Jordi Landry is a big fan, having participated three consecutive years.

"I like buying presents for poor people because some years they don't get a lot or any presents," she said.

Jordi and her group shopped for a 6-year-old girl. As with all the recipients, the girl's name wasn't revealed to the shoppers.

Jordi and her friends had a lot of fun in the toy aisle.

"She said she wanted a Barbie," Jordi explained.

The excursion wasn't just an hourlong shopping trip away from school. It was also an opportunity for the students to learn about budgeting.

The kids carried calculators and had to track the prices of the items in their shopping carts.

Teaching the kids to be charitable is important, too, Schueneman said.

"This is a lesson that they'll never forget," she said.

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