Giving the gift of joy at Christmas; ROHO comes through again

Published 3:45 pm Friday, December 10, 2021

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Kids in four counties and 28 schools were given the chance to experience a little holiday joy courtesy of the ROHO Christmas Shopping Spree. The annual event is supported each year via proceeds from the ROHO Fishing Tournament.

This year, each of the 353 children was given a total of $340 – $200 for clothing and $140 for toys – to spend as they wish. Seeing their shining eyes and wide smiles as they sped through the store to find just that perfect outfit or a much-desired toy was enough payment to the volunteers who worked tirelessly to bring this day to fruition.

ROHO members and volunteers work from January through December each year toward the annual Fishing Derby held at the Beach Island Marina & Resort during the first weekend in May.

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Most of the budget is raised via tickets sold by area businesses and members of the community throughout upper east Tennessee, southeastern Kentucky and southwestern Virginia. Some of these individuals find themselves emotionally involved, remembering past Christmases as a child when they were the beneficiary of the shopping sprees.

In operation since 1965, the first derby raised enough funds to allow five participating children $50 each to spend as they wished.

Reportedly, the somewhat unusual organizational name was taken from the title of an Archie Campbell song about a rooster that was turned out to pasture. The original founding ROHO members, who were departing Jaycees, said the new name was a natural fit since outgoing Jaycees were known as “exhausted roosters.”

The children taking part in the annual sprees are students from the tri-state area of Claiborne and Union counties in Tennessee, Bell County in Kentucky and Lee County in Virginia.

Organization members and volunteers have spoken fondly of the reactions of many of the participating children, growing emotional as they remember how a child asked them if they could spend part of their money on a gift for a brother, sister, mom or dad.

“Walmart is an outstanding supporter of this program,” said ROHO spokesperson Lawrence Tuck. “They go above and beyond the checkout lane to make this a very memorable day for all involved. The children are treated to lunch at the rear of the store and they also get to meet Santa Claus who will give them a fresh bag of fruit. The entire excursion will take about two hours with school times staggered throughout the morning to make things run more smoothly.”

​Those interested in becoming a ROHO member are invited to attend a regularly scheduled meeting each first Monday of the month, beginning at 7 p.m. at the Middlesboro Country Club.

For more information, or to sponsor a child for next year’s spree, log onto: