Warning: The following may cause excessive amounts of holiday cheer and warm feelings.
Imagine yourself at 10 years old. You walk into a huge department store and you’re given $100 dollars to buy whatever your heart desires.
What item are you seeking out? What aisle are you sprinting towards?
The Milwaukee Brewers teamed up with Meijer and USO Wisconsin to make that shopping spree fantasy come true for 21 local children.
Kids were given a budget of $100 to spend on themselves, then an additional $20 to spend on a gift that would be donated to the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin.
Members of the team’s front office staff, TV personalities, radio broadcasters and second baseman Keston Hiura walked around the aisles, helping these children fill carts with everything from legos, to stuffed animals, monster trucks and much more.
“I had a lot of fun,” Hiura said after helping his shopping partner, Riley, pack her bags in the checkout line. “Shopping is a fun thing to do, especially around the holiday times where you’re getting a gift for other people, or just in general getting Christmas or holiday things. It was a fun time to be around.”
Hiura and Riley started in the lego aisle, then moved to the arts and crafts section where she picked out some new construction paper and markers. There was a brief debate on which pack of markers to select, eventually going with the one that had “all the colors.”
The duo then went through numerous stuffed animal options before deciding on a two-foot tall unicorn named “Uni.” Hiura suggested a different name for the new furry friend, but Riley was set on Uni.
“I said ‘Can you name it Keston?’ and she said ‘Nah, I think Uni is better.”
They added books and another stuffed animal, to be donated to the Children’s Hospital, to the cart before making their way to the checkout lines.
“Growing up I always loved stuffed animals,” he said. “You always felt like you had a friend in them being able to take them around with you where ever you go.”
Hiura wasn’t there just to shop with Riley, however. One kid approached him asking which lego set to buy. Hiura’s advice was classic, telling him to get the one with more pieces.
Legos are still extremely popular, for parents possibly still doing some holiday shopping. That aisle was all the rage at Meijer during this shopping trip.
“This is really special,” Hiura added. “To be able to spend the night with Riley and a bunch of other children whose parents served or are currently overseas, it’s truly special to be part of.
“The sacrifice (the parents) who serve our country but also the sacrifice the children are giving as well, spending many days, holidays, birthdays away from their parents, it’s always nice to remind them that there are nice things in life and help them enjoy the night.”
This event was part of Meijer’s “Shop with a Hero” series, where children are paired with local athletes or first responders to shop for themselves and others.
It was obvious that the helpful Meijer staff was thrilled to have Hiura and the Brewers in their store as well. Especially when they broke out in laughter as one of the Johnsonville Racing Sausages decided to ride a Huffy Bike down a few of the aisles.
“We are pleased to partner with Meijer for a fifth year on this impactful program to support our military and their families,” Brewers President of Business Operations Rick Schlesinger said in a release sent out by the team. “The event helps bring a little bit more cheer to these children and their families during the holidays.”
Bill Schroeder, Sophia Minnaert, Jeff Levering and Lane Grindle also represented the organization and filled their kid’s shopping carts.
Hiura legitimately wasn’t there just to make an appearance either. He scanned items at the checkout, told Riley that he read ‘Captain Underpants’ and ‘A Series of Unfortunate Events’ when he was her age, and took time to learn about her interests. He also accepted a Spree flavored Candy Cane from one of the shoppers, then said thanks with a two-handed high five.
There were some excited shoppers who didn’t expect to run into one of Milwaukee’s rising stars during a quick shopping pit-stop on their way home. He made time to take selfies and shake hands with them as well.
As for the 10-year old version of Keston Hiura. Before he hit 19 home runs and 49 RBI as an MLB rookie. He had a lot of interests, but probably would have ran straight for the card aisle if given the opportunity.
“I was a big Pokémon fan growing up,” he said. “I liked stuffed animals, video games, legos, cars. It was kind of a wide variety. Definitely any kind of sports or anything like that.
“So it was fun to go on a little shopping spree.”