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Goodwill greets children with holiday delights

Ashon Clausen, 5, of Reading, picks out his stuffed Christmas stocking as his mother, Sara, looks on Friday afternoon at the Goodwill store in Worthington. (BRIAN KORTHALS/DAILY GLOBE)1 / 2
Ammanuel Ojha, 12, gets ready to strike the piñata Friday afternoon at the Goodwill store in Worthington. (BRIAN KORTHALS/DAILY GLOBE)2 / 2

WORTHINGTON — With the big guy in the red Santa suit sitting next to a Christmas tree at Goodwill on Friday afternoon, children walked in with big eyes and even bigger expectations for a few pre-holiday gifts.

Goodwill Industries has hosted a shoe and mitten party for children ages 5 to 11 since 1942, when the first such event was conducted at Goodwill’s store in Sioux City, Iowa, according to Heather Faulkner, director of retail for Goodwill. With the company’s growth across the region — into parts of Nebraska and Minnesota and all of South Dakota — each now offers a special holiday party for needy children.

Since Goodwill opened less than five months ago in Worthington, Friday’s party was the first of what is expected to become annual parties to help meet the needs of local children.

Fifty children were invited to participate in the Goodwill party, which took place in a decorated back room of the store. Goodwill worked with local churches and organizations to create its list of recipients.

On Friday, the children arrived to a find a table was filled with books, socks, mittens and hats. Pairs of brand new shoes dangled from a clothing rack, and Christmas stockings were laid out, filled with gift certificates and trinkets donated by local businesses.

Faulkner said each child would receive new shoes, a hat, mittens, socks and treats like crayons or stuffed animals. The event included free pizza for the kids, a swing at a piñata, a chance to win door prizes and time to sit on Santa’s lap and recite their Christmas wish list.

“We really like giving back to our local communities — we have so much support through our shoppers and through our donors that we like to be able to give back to our local area,” Faulkner said. “This is one of the big feel-good events we do every year.”

Jennifer Moran, manager of the Worthington store, said all of the children receiving gifts are from Nobles County. She said several local businesses donated to the cause, including Pizza Hut, Pizza Ranch, Burger King, Dairy Queen, Arby’s, McDonalds, Walgreens, Wal-Mart, Jaycox, United Prairie Bank, Fulda Area Credit Union, Round Lake Fire Department, Worthington Federal Savings & Loan and Ace Hardware. Customers also donated items and cash to help make the party possible.

Cousins Jordan, 10, and Jayden, 5, Smith were among the first kids at the party. Both were looking forward to getting some gifts, although Jayden was a bit nervous about meeting the big guy, Santa.

Jordan said he was excited to get new shoes, while Jayden (who wants an Xbox 360 and Wii You for Christmas) said he was looking forward to getting new shoes, a hat and gloves.

Sisters Nyakan, 8, and Elizabeth, 5, Gath were hoping for a tablet and new snowpants, respectively.

Daily Globe Reporter Julie Buntjer may be reached at 376-7330.

Julie Buntjer

Julie Buntjer joined the Globe newsroom in December 2003, after working more than nine years for weekly newspapers. A native of Worthington and graduate of Worthington High School, then-Worthington Community College and South Dakota State University, she has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism. At The Globe, Julie covers the agricultural beat, as well as Nobles County government, watersheds, community news and feature stories. In her spare time, she enjoys needlework (cross-stitch and hardanger embroidery), reading, travel, fishing and spending time with family. Find more of her stories of farm life, family and various other tidbits at

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