After about one hour of shopping at the G.C. Murphy Co. variety store in downtown Washington yesterday afternoon, Ronita Hall, 5, had purchased Christmas gifts for several members of her family and herself for $11.
Pulling her purchases from her shopping bag, she proudly displayed them to Santa Claus, who was walking through the store with a jolly strut.
She told him: "I got this a set of plastic salt and pepper shakers for my mommy; and this a plastic dump truck for my brother; and this a pair of socks for my big sister. A coloring book, a game and a "Miss Flair Doll" in the bag were gifts that she bought for herself, she explained.
Ronita did her shopping courtesy of the Downtown Jaycees and other groups, who this year donated $28,000 -- $11 per child including store discounts -- to the annual "Dollars for Needy Children Shopping Tour."
A Jaycees spokesman, Charles McElroy, said the program brought 2,800 children the joy of giving.
About 80 percent of those selected by various community groups to participate in the program showed up yesterday at one of five Murphy and F.W. Woolworth Co. stores in the District of Columbia, ready to stuff their shopping bags, McElroy said.
"This gives them a chance to get something for their mother, father, brother or sister," said Charles Current, assistant manager at the Murphy store at 1214 G St. NW.
Janet Vinson, a cashier at the store, said, "Its good to see kids who really have some money to spend on themselves, but spend it on others." But, she said, some kids were encouraged by their parents to buy only for themselves.
Therron Lee, 15, whose unemployed mother, Alice Lee, accompanied him yesterday, bought two pairs of gloves, some pencils, and small bottles of cologne and lotion.
The Jaycees have sponsored the charity shopping spree with other volunteer organizations, such as the Red Cross, for about 30 years. Patsy Mitchell, 29, a Red Cross volunteer, said that "You feel lifted by helping people who are less fortunate. It helps generate the true Christmas spirit."