It didn't matter that 45 underprivileged young people in the Myrtle Beach area knew ahead of time what they were getting for Christmas.
And they didn't mind shopping early under the watchful eyes of football players they had just met, some as big as Christmas trees.
The event was the second annual North-South All-Star Football Game shopping day. Players from each team, the North and South, were paired with youngsters from either Tara Hall Home for Boys, Myrtle Beach Intermediate School or Waccamaw Youth Center.
With a $100 gift card in hand, a player pushing a shopping cart and the other bringing up the rear, the groups of three stepped inside the Target near Broadway at the Beach with a good idea of which way to head first.
Some headed to the electronics departments, some to the shoes and other to the clothes.
"It's a great thing,'' said Statford's Ray Stackley, head coach of the South. "Just look around and how the football players are taking care of the kids. It's good because these kids who might not get to have a Christmas.
"It's good for the players because it brings them closer to the players they've been snarling at all week. I believe our players, both teams, get a lot out of this. It shows them there is more to life than playing football and hating your opponent.''
The major portion of the cost was funded by former Rock Hill player Chris Hope, a starting defensive back for the Tennessee Titans. Hope readily agreed to jump in and help when it appeared the event wouldn't happen this year.
A smaller portion was donated by Brandon Frye, a former Myrtle Beach and Seattle Seahawks player, in the name of his employer, Wells Fargo.
But it was Hope who saved the day and Keith Richardson, the game chairman, said he wished Hope could be there to see how much it meant to everyone involved. Hope said he would like to come, but his team played the Indianapolis Colts on Thursday night.
"That's what it's all about,'' said Richardson, as a player with his arm around a very small youngster walked past on their way to shop for blue jeans. "It does you good to see that.''
It was the same throughout the store, with regular shoppers stopping coaches and escorts dressed in the North's blue and the South's red to ask what was going on. Stackley explained, and two couples who didn't know about the North-South game told him they would be there Saturday to cheer the players.
The most popular items were coats, jeans, T-shirts, underwear and socks. Four spent $49 for bicycles, which players proudly rolled through the store and to the counter.
"We are helping a girl named Tessa,'' said Prennis Thompson, a North defensive back from Woodruff. "She didn't have a good idea of what to shop for, so we helped her as best we could. It was tough because I hadn't been shopping with a girl before. But it was fun, and I think we did OK.''
Patti Conrad, who organized the event, said she can't think of a better way for the North-South players to give back and for sponsors, especially Hope, to realize what a big deal it is for the players and youngsters.
"A lot of these kids come from broken homes or bad situations and have hardly nothing,'' she said. "Seeing the kids so happy and with smiles on their faces means so much to everyone involved.
"And it's fun to stand back and watch them shop. One bought some underwear, socks and I think maybe a watch, then got the rest on a gift card so the other children in his family could have a Christmas present.''
At first, the players attempted to keep the tally in their heads to know when to stop. It was just a matter of time before they began pulling out cell phones and adding the items before they were put in the buggies.
And rather than tell the youngsters they were over, most players pooled their money and paid the difference. They didn't want their names mentioned, saying they wanted to do it and didn't care to be identified for doing so.
One group paid an extra $25 but shrugged it off as something any of them would do.
Time began winding down, and Richardson made a sweep of the store to tell the shoppers they should wrap it up because the players had to get back for afternoon practice.
"Man, interacting with these kids made my day,'' said Daquan Brown, a defensive back from Spartanburg. "I can't tell you how special this felt, the smiles and happy kids, because it's hard to describe. But it any of the players here weren't feeling it's Christmas, they do now.''