With just 17 shopping days to go, Mount St. Mary Academy in Kenmore tried a variation of “shop till you drop” this weekend, by giving harried parents the opportunity to “drop” and then shop.
In an effort to help shoppers while also raising some funds for an alumni scholarship program, the all-girls Catholic school ran its first-ever “Holiday Drop and Shop” program for four hours Sunday afternoon.
For $5 per child, parents could enroll their little ones for an afternoon of supervised activities in the school’s gymnasium, ranging from movies and snacks to crafts and games like Holiday Bingo and “Pin the Nose on the Snowman.”
Then, the parents could either adjourn to the nearby student dining room, where holiday gift vendors had set up about 10 tables to peddle their wares, or leave the kiddies behind and head off to the stores.
“We call it a ‘drop and shop’ because people can drop off their kids,” said Alexandra Fussell, the school’s alumni coordinator and a member of the Class of 1996. “Then they can shop here or go to the mall.”
The vendors included independent craft artisans and shops, such as Around-again Baby Clothes of Snyder, Parkside Candies or Fussell’s Heart-felt Crafts, and home-party consultants for retailers such as Pampered Chef, Silpada and Discovery Toys.
Fussell said the organizers expected as many as 50 people to take advantage of the drop-off program and, as of 2 p.m., eight kids were enrolled. Mount St. Mary students staffed the children’s activities tailored for children 4 and older.
“We want to make sure they’re potty-trained,” said Amber Hartman, a member of the Class of 1993, who oversaw the kids area. “We’re not changing diapers.”
Vendor arts-and-crafts fairs are not uncommon, especially this time of year, so organizers came up with the drop-off feature as a way to differentiate the school’s effort.
“It’s wonderful,” said Bridget Janese, from the Class of 1995, who dropped off her 4-year-old daughter, Sophia, while her sister-in-law watched her youngest child. “She’s watching a movie now, but I’m sure she’ll love the arts-and-crafts table and pin-the-tail-on-Frosty.”
Janese planned to head off to Toys R Us or the Boulevard Mall to do some shopping.
“Most people might not be comfortable with a ‘drop and shop,’ but I went to high school here,” she added.
For Jasmine Rodgers, who just moved to Kenmore from Buffalo, the program was an alternative to a baby-sitter. Rodgers had to report to work for her job as a medical liaison for a state-run group home.
“It gives us a chance to meet some new faces,” said the mother of four.
But many of those in attendance came without young kids.
“I think it’s fantastic,” said Betsy White, an alumna and member of the Class of 1975, who came with her mother and her teenage niece. “We decided to come by and see what we could find.”
Proceeds from the program – including both the per-child fee and a $35 space rental fee for each vendor – benefit the 4-year-old Alumni Scholarship, which is awarded annually to two students by the Alumni Board, a group of 18 women “who really banded together to support students who want to go to the Mount but don’t have the resources to do so,” Fussell said.
The scholarship consists of a $1,000 award each year for four years, helping to defray the school’s tuition of $9,550 per year.