By Katrina Drew

School Correspondent

AYER -- While the majority of our society is out braving the malls and surfing the net in order to find the very best in holiday deals, the students at the Page Hilltop School did not have to go further than their own Cultural Arts Room.

During the first week of December, this large, open-space area was transformed into a winter wonderland holiday shop for the preschool through fifth grade shoppers.

For the past three months, parent Brenda Magno has been shopping for quality, inexpensive items to fill the tables of the holiday shop. "We try to purchase a large variety of items so there is something for everyone on our shoppers' lists," Magno said. "It really brings a smile to your face and joy to your heart to help a child find just the perfect gift for someone they love."

On Friday, Nov. 30, the Cultural Arts Room was transformed by Magno with the help of some PTO elves into a winter wonderland/shopping extravaganza. "The holiday shop is something I truly look forward to every year," Magno said. "It is wonderful to see the kids embracing the spirit of giving during the holiday season."

There were six tables set up -- one for mother, aunt and grandmother gifts; one for dad, uncle and grandpa gifts; one designated for girl items; one for boy stuff; one for baby, toddler, and pet paraphernalia; and one for ornaments. "There were a lot of shoppers at Page Hilltop who knew just what they wanted to purchase.


This year, stuffed animal monkeys, candles, fuzzy socks, and back scratchers were very popular, along with the ornaments and sticky eyeball toys," holiday shop elf Tammy Valliere mentioned.

Each class in the school picked a 30-minute block of time to come and shop for the people (and pets) in their lives. The cost of all items was one dollar. Magno added that this helps the children be able to manage their money in a grown-up, responsible way. "They know that if they have five things in their basket, it will cost five dollars."

Second grader Andrew Bozek spent a long time deciding what to buy for his mother, father, brother and sister. "There are so many things," he said. "But I do know just what to get for Kelsey, my sister. She will love it! I like shopping here because I can do it all by myself."

The holiday shop was open every day during the first week of December and also on the evening of Dec. 6 for family shopping. "The family shopping night is great," Magno noted. "Not only can families do some purchasing of our holiday items, but they can also take advantage of the Scholastic Book Fair, which goes on at the same time as the PTO shop."