LAND O'LAKES — Gianna Curran, 4, went to Kmart recently in search of one specific item.
"I need a pony," said Gianna, a pre-K student at Kids' Stuff preschool in Land O'Lakes.
What Gianna sought specifically was a My Pretty Pony toy — but not for herself. She joined 54 Kids' Stuff preschoolers who saved up their allowances and did extra chores at home during November with the goal of raising money for needy Pasco children.
"We committed to help 19 families through the ABC program of Connerton Elementary, 11 ABC families at Denham Oaks Elementary, and two of the families served through the Kids' Stuff Angel Tree program in conjunction with Christian Social Services," said Kristy Reavis, executive director of Kids' Stuff. "Each of these families has several children in need of toys."
ABC programs in Pasco schools connect needy children with community sponsors to provide them with school supplies, clothing and other items.
After a monthlong effort to earn extra change through chores that ranged from helping mom with the laundry to giving baby sisters their baths — and discovering a few extra coins under couch cushions at home — the Kids' Stuff students came up with roughly $1,300.
"We did so well," said Isabel Trentman, Kids' Stuff teacher and coordinator of the school's annual charity shopping trip.
She joined Kids' Stuff teachers Kim Copher, Judy Defriese, Liz Green and Reavis to supervise the children's shopping trip, aided by a number of teaching assistants and parent volunteers who helped advise the pupils on their purchases.
"We need to give to needy children," said Trenton Stafford, 4. "And the money came from us!"
"When we give them toy cars it will make them feel better," agreed classmate Jack Wall, who danced happily down the aisle as he helped select toys.
Grant Menke, who turned 5 on Dec. 5, celebrated by participating in the charity shopping trip. Supervising his efforts was his mother, parent volunteer Melissa Menke.
"My son has worked so hard for the money needed to buy presents for less fortunate kids," he said. "He's learning what things cost. And he's learning that Christmas isn't all about him. He's very excited to help."
And the parent and grandparent volunteers were excited to see the kids helping others.
"This really touches the heart," said Vivian Sardegna of Land O'Lakes, who helped supervise the shopping efforts of Michael Coscia, her grandson.
As the children shopped for Monster High, Lalaloopsy, Barbie dolls and jewelry making kits for girls, and Power Ranger and Pokemon toys and toy cars for boys, they were encouraged to check prices, compare and consider shopping choices, and stick to the wish list they were provided by the families.
"My sister is 10, and I'm shopping for a 10-year-old girl," said Leah Stolmeir, 4. "I know just what she'll like."
Aside from the money they saved, the kids received additional support for their effort at Kmart, where manager Nancy Kennedy offered a discount on their purchases and several shoppers came forward offering gift cards to the teachers to help the kids buy everything on their lists.