Hundreds of smiling faces line up to volunteer for KONY’s Coins for Kids shopping event

ST. GEORGE —Despite facing a bitter cold chill in the air, hundreds of smiling faces lined up with warmth in their hearts outside Washington’s Walmart Supercenter Tuesday afternoon to shop for this year’s KONY Coins for Kids charity event.

“Oh my gosh, look at all these people,” 99.9 KONY Country morning show host Amy Chesley said. “There are hundreds of people that show up for our kids in our community. How cool is that.”

Chesley told St. George News it was amazing to see so many generous people from the community take time out of their day to help ensure that children from across Washington County have a wonderful Christmas. She talked to one volunteer, an 87-year-old man that was unable to walk but showed up in his wheelchair ready to shop for the kids.

“That’s what it’s about. This is so cool. It’s not KONY, it’s the community,” she said.

For three decades, KONY and Coins for Kids founder Carl Lamar have brought Southern Utah together to help thousands of their less fortunate neighbors celebrate Christmas, relying entirely on donations and small army of volunteers for a three-day shopping, wrapping and delivering blitz to make everything happen. 

Community gathers to shop and support KONY’s Coins for Kids annual Christmas charity, Washington, Utah, Dec. 17, 2019 | Photo by Andrew Pinckney St. George News

Known for its tiny red collection boxes placed on counters throughout Washington County, in 2018, Coins for Kids qualified 1,703 children and 578 families for assistance. This year, they qualified 1,542 kids and raised $130,000, which enabled volunteers to shop for 1,040 kids at the event. Another 500 families were “adopted out” for help, Lamar said.

Bob Staymates was the first in line to shop and said he was looking forward to having fun. He told St. George News he started coming out about 13 years ago to help — it’s tradition.

“Had to get off work to get here,” he said. “It’s good to help kids out, it’s important.”

Some volunteers braved the cold in line for hours to join the fun and spend $110 on gifts for each child.

Shelly Traveller said she wanted to bring her kids out to help and hopefully learn a few lessons about Christmas spirit.

“The true meaning of Christmas, to give,” she said.

Following the spending extravaganza, Marines from the Utah Dixie Detachment 1270 assisted with loading all the gifts into box trucks to be transported to the Dixie Convention Center where they will be wrapped and set up for delivery. 

Wrapping begins Wednesday at 8 a.m., and everyone is welcome to come and volunteer. 

Delivery begins Thursday afternoon at 4 p.m., and Lamar said volunteer Santas are still needed, if anyone in the community is interested. For more information and details on the remaining events, visit the Coins for Kids website.

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2019, all rights reserved.

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