East Texas students who are visually impaired go on Christmas shopping spree, give back

East Texas students who are visually impaired go on Christmas shopping spree, give back
Published: Dec. 7, 2022 at 10:29 PM CST
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TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - Students across East Texas spent the day shopping at Big Lots in Tyler, but they are not putting the toys under their own Christmas tree. The East Texas Lighthouse for the Blind (ETLB) Region Seven Christmas shopping spree is an opportunity for students who are visually impaired to buy toys to donate to Toys for Tots.

The shopping spree is an annual tradition with more than 12 schools across East Texas and about 50 students who are visually impaired.

“It feels good to give back to kids that might not get much this year,” Palestine ISD sophomore Shelby Mathews said.

Children’s program manager Ann Phillips said the shopping spree aligns with the mission at ETLB. The nonprofit empowers people who are visually impaired through education, training, and rehabilitation.

On Wednesday, each student received $11 from ETLB to shop for their gift to Toys for Tots. Phillips said lessons include, “Social skills, independence, money management, mobility.”

The toys will be donated to Toys for Tots. According to their website, Toys for Tots is a a United States Marine Corps program which distributes toys to children whose parents struggle to buy them gifts for Christmas.

“Some of these children are from small where they don’t know anyone else with a visual impairment, they think they’re the only one,” Phillips said.

But for Longview ISD student Kamryn Henry meeting people,

“It’s like the best part ever because you know there’s some kids who are exactly like me. I have albinism, so I think it’s really cool.”

“So many times people with disabilities are on the receiving end of things ... they want to feel like they can give, that they’re part of the community, that they have something to offer, and so these kinds of trips show them that,” Phillips said.

The students donated remaining change to the Salvation Army Red Kettles.