“What are we doing here?” seems like a fair question for any kid who just rode in a limousine from North College Hill to the front doors of Dick’s Sporting Goods in Kenwood.
It probably got less clear when the kids were led inside the store by FC Cincinnati’s mascot, Gary, who was wearing the new Heritage Link Kit.
But after a quick walk through the store and a ride up the escalator, everything became a little clearer.
Gary led the kids to a set of blue tables with soccer ball centerpieces. The backdrop included balloons spelling “F-C-C” and a shopping cart filled with soccer balls. There were also goodie bags with long-sleeved shirts, keychains and a limited-edition MLS scarf inside.
But what stood out most were the pile of empty black shopping bags that looked ripe to fill.
On Monday night, the FC Cincinnati Foundation held its first-ever “Shop Like a Pro” event, in partnership with Dick’s Sporting Goods. A total of 25 kids from the Greater Cincinnati area were each given a $125 gift card and told they could buy anything in the store. If they had any questions, Nick Hagglund, Austin Berry and Omar Cummings were there to help.
With 45 minutes to shop, the kids scattered throughout the store. Some went to get clothes while others looked at shoes. Anthony ran and got a basketball, which he dribbled around. Bryce got a blue sweat suit that he was wearing before the event concluded.
“It was amazing and so much fun,” Natalie Anderson, FC Cincinnati Foundation assistant director, said. “The kids get so excited and it’s a thrill to be here. Not only do they get things for themselves, but they buy things for other family members, which is the true spirit of the holidays. They do it on their own, which is amazing.”
Outback Steakhouse provided dinner when the shopping ending, and dessert included mini Nothing Bundt Cakes. As the kids ate, FCC President Jeff Berding reminded the children to dream big and to achieve their ambitions.
After that, Dick’s Sporting Goods presented a check for $5,000 to the FC Cincinnati Foundation, which has invested $1 Million into the Cincinnati community in 2019.
Anderson said she hoped to grow Shop Like a Pro in 2020 and beyond. This year, participating kids came from Cincinnati Public Schools, Covington Independent Schools and North College Hill.
“(We want) to expand it,” she said. “We’d love to impact more children and spread the love as much as we can.”