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On Saturday, Dec. 7, more than 100 volunteers joined the Ocean City Chamber of Commerce Young Professionals Committee for the group’s ninth annual Christmas Spirit Campaign. The campaign allows underprivileged children to go on a $100 shopping spree. Posing together, from left, are Emily Meadows with Pip the Beach Cat, Gretchen Cooper, Cate Nellans, Lexi Chambers, Danielle Bellante, Ashley Johnson, Ryan Nellans, Chrissy Maddy, Byron Green and Joe Dembowski.

(Dec. 13, 2019) The Ocean City Chamber of Commerce Young Professionals Committee celebrated another successful holiday campaign as 63 children had the opportunity to go on a shopping spree last Saturday. 

“It was a great event as usual,” Young Professionals Chair Danielle Bellante said. “We had 110 volunteers.” 

This was the committee’s ninth consecutive year taking dozens of underprivileged children on a $100 Walmart shopping spree. 

The committee worked with school guidance counselors and Worcester Youth and Family Counseling Services in Berlin to find the children and offer them the opportunity to participate. 

The event began early that morning at 5 a.m. 

Parents dropped their children off at the Outback Steakhouse in West Ocean City, and once they all arrived, they were taken to the Berlin Walmart. 

At the Walmart, children were greeted by volunteers, who not only braved the toy section with the youth, but also played games, made crafts and wrapped gifts. 

After an hour or two of holiday frenzy, the youth were taken back to the restaurant where they were provided with a pancake breakfast. 

In addition to volunteers, what makes the event possible are sponsors who donate money and items, such as wrapping paper, to the committee. 

“We had 30 sponsors for the event [this year],” Bellante said. 

Although Bellante could not give exact figures, she said the committee raised between $6,000 and $10,000 for this year’s event. 

“I honestly couldn’t tell you one thing that went wrong with the event or one thing that I would change. It feels like year after year we’re getting better and better,” Bellante said. 

Bellante said she was grateful to volunteers, sponsors and to Outback Steakhouse and Walmart for partnering with the committee. 

Next year will be the event’s 10th anniversary, and Bellante had one message to future participants.

“Follow us on Facebook, follow us on Facebook, follow us on Facebook,” she said. “The Young Professionals has our Facebook page where we post as much information as we can … We keep all of our events listed there, so if you want to get involved for next year, or for any of our other events throughout the year, Facebook is the best way to follow along.” 

For more information on volunteer opportunities or to make a donation, check out the committee’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/ ocmdyp/.

Josh covers everything Ocean City government and crime. He graduated from the University of Richmond in 2019 with a B.A. in French and Journalism.

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