Since 1960, the Ruth Sokolof Christmas Shopping Party has helped visually-impaired kids with their Christmas shopping.
“When you’re visually impaired you can’t go independently, so they make their list to buy for their siblings, their mom and dad,” said Karen Sokolof-Javitch, Ruth’s daughter and board member with the Nebraska Foundation for Visually-Impaired Children.
Each kid gets $100 to spend on gifts for family members and teachers. They are accompanied by two volunteers from Omaha area high schools.
Jon and Ben Fink from Elkhorn South spent the day with Landon King helping him navigate the halls and stores of Westroads Mall and guiding him to the perfect gift.
They smelled some candles for Landon to select for his teachers.
“Vanilla bean. Like the smell of that one, too?” asked Jon.
“ Yeah,” replied Landon.
Shopping with the volunteers helps the kids feel more independent and social.
“He’s so much more confident using his cane, and being away from mom and dad, and doing it with people that he just met and just holding that conversation and talking about Santa,” said Landon’s mom Kristi King.
The party started with only 20 children in 1960 and has grown to 147 kids. After Ruth’s death, her husband Phil set up a memorial fund in his will to keep the party going. Their daughter Karen now carries on the tradition.
“We do do other things like provide large print books, Braille for the classrooms, but this is our one big party for the year,” said Sokolof-Javitch.
“This community has been amazing for Landon. All his teachers have been so great and teaching him Braille and reading and writing and that social peace,” said King.
After shopping, the kids got together to wrap presents, visit with Santa, and enjoy a pizza party.