Chicago kids bused downtown to shop for Christmas

A special holiday tradition that's in full swing this week brings more than 500 deserving kids to the Loop to shop until they drop.

The after school program "By the Hand" has been helping children for more than 20 years. They call it "Christmas in the City" — it brings K-12 youth from some of Chicago’s most under-resourced neighborhoods to shop for either themselves or others.

On Wednesday, a group from Austin on the city's West Side was bused to State street. All 125 students were given $25 Visa shopping gift cards and $10 McDonald’s gift cards for dinner.

"They let us walk around, see what we like around here," said Zamaria Browley.

More than 500 kids will get the opportunity to take part in the event, and Austin Site Director Bernadette Ballenger says the students earn this reward by good academics and attendance at school.


"This is independence, this is stability, this is safety for them. A lot of students growing up in inner city sometimes can’t just go out and shop" said Ballenger.

Christmas in the City a tradition for many in the program, giving a little more light this holiday season.

"By the Hand is doing some good and helping everybody," said Browley.

If you want to help this organization, visit