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Kids shop for the holidays at school boutique

Rodney Lajeune, 10, and Christopher Solages, 10, both

Rodney Lajeune, 10, and Christopher Solages, 10, both of Amityville, check out potential gifts to buy for loved ones at the annual Holiday Boutique hosted at their school, Park Avenue Memorial Elementary in Amityville. The boutique is intended to offer lessons in budgeting and thoughtful gifting. (Dec. 10, 2012) Credit: Erin Geismar

Christopher Solages carefully surveyed a table full of trinkets at the Holiday Boutique at his Amityville school, weighing his options for the money he carried in an envelope.

For about $6, he ended up with a necklace for his mother -- who likes to wear necklaces -- and a ball-on-a-string-type game for his older sister.

With a few bucks left after leaving the register at Park Avenue Memorial Elementary School, Christopher, 10, of Amityville, made one last sweep to see whether he could find something for his other sister.

“I hope this makes them happy,” he said about spending the allowance he earned from organizing the shoe closet at home.

Thoughtful gifting was just one of the skills at play at the boutique on Monday, along with lessons in budgeting and self-control.

For the past three years, the Amityville Parent Teacher Committee has purchased an abundance of gifts averaging between $2 and $4 and manned a gift shop at each of the district’s pre-K and elementary schools, committee president Susan Heenan said.

Gifts included small toys, sports memorabilia, jewelry and a variety of items personalized for "mom," "dad," "grandpa" and "grandma."

“We just hope to break even,” Heenan said. “This is not for us to make money. It’s just to give the kids this experience. Most children in our district wouldn’t get this opportunity.”

Committee vice president Maresa Dealy said that when she talks to the kids shopping for others, she finds a “sense of wonder” in them as they search for things they can purchase with their own limited funds.

“They love that they can do this themselves,” she said. “They can pick up something for mom, dad, aunt, uncle, sister, brother. They are learning to enjoy this part of it.”

Natalya Grant, 10, of Amityville, kept coming back to one ring she coveted, but it cost $4. Her budget was $5, and she already had an impossible-to-let-go $2 item in her shopping basket.

Time for a decision: Could the person she was shopping for live without both items?

“It’s for myself,” she said. “My dad said he was going to buy something for my mom and my brother.”

Kamari Hough, 10, of Amityville, brought a full basket to the register: a necklace and headband for his mom, a soccer ball for his brother and a keychain for himself.

He spent about $10 earned from watching his brother, taking out the garbage and being respectful.

But that was the easy part, he said. The hard part will be waiting until Christmas to give out his presents.

“I’m excited,” he said. “I wonder what they’re going to say.”

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