JACKSON TWP.  Fifty local children got an early Christmas when they went on a shopping spree at Target in Jackson Township on Dec. 15. Each of the kids got a $100 gift card courtesy of Citizens Bank. This is the ninth year Citizens Bank has hosted the shopping event.

The children participating were from the JRC Learning Center in Canton and from ACCESS, a homeless shelter in Akron serving women and their children. Each of the kids received a $100 gift card they could spend on themselves or members of their family.

"We also have 20 volunteers from Citizens Bank who are here to help the kids shop," said Kyle Anne Vierheller, branch manager in Canton. "Citizens Bank believes in giving back to the community and this is a great way to help kids with their holiday shopping. Around 500 local children have received the gift cards since 2008 through this program."

Development Director Jim Bentley from the JRC Learning Center said his organization had 30 kids shopping that evening. Kids ranged in age from six to 12 years old. 

"We started the kids in a financial literacy class back in October and part of the lesson was they were asked how they would manage $100 if they were given it," Bentley said. "We had the kids write out a plan for the money. Some listed items they would buy and some planned on saving some the money. We didn’t tell them during the class that they were really getting the money. They were just told today that they were getting a $100 gift card to shop. You can image the surprise look on an eight-year old’s face when they’re told they are getting that much money to spend on gifts."

Most of the kids headed straight for the toy section while some started shopping for clothes first before going to the toys. And, some went straight to electronics. The kids also got cookies and drinks after they completed their shopping spree.