By JUDY SHERARD

jsherard@dailynews.net

Shoppers at The Mall got a little help Monday evening wrapping Christmas from members of the St. Joseph Parish Life Teen and Junior CYO.

The Mall has offered the gift wrapping and given non-profit groups a chance to raise funds by asking for freewill donations for several years, said Brenna Stebbins, administrative assistant at The Mall.

The service started Nov. 28, Black Friday.

"Until this week, it's been on the weekends only. But for the last minute shopping rush, we're wrapping Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday," Stebbins said.

The students from St. Joseph Parish worked Tuesday evening, too.

The Mall donates wrapping paper, tape, bows and some boxes.

"It's a good way to give organizations an opportunity to collect donations and helps shoppers get their wrapping done," she said.

The Catholic Youth Organization has wrapped gifts for shoppers, usually earlier in the month, for the past five years, said Renee Michaud.

She and her husband, Jerry, are youth coordinators at the parish. Michaud said it isn't just about the donations, which help the students attend the National Youth Conference in November and the Junior CYO members go to junior CYO camp in the summer.

"Anything we can do this time of year to help spread the Christmas spirit and the real meaning of the season," Michaud said.

Michaud never knows how many student volunteers will show up, but about a dozen students came to help Monday.

"The kids come and go whenever they're free," Michaud said. "They love to be here. Some are very experienced (at gift wrapping), and some are brand new, but we teach them on the job."

First-year wrapper Ian Lenser came expecting to learn some gift wrapping techniques. He wraps gifts at home, but "I'm not good at it," he said.

Because her parents are the group's leaders, Hannah Michaud, a junior, has "been involved since I was little. It's been really, really fun."

She likes wrapping gifts and has determined the size of the gift isn't as important as its shape.

"If it's a box, you can pretty much wrap anything. But if it's not, it's a little more challenging," Hannah said.

The evening started out with only boxed gifts to be wrapped, but she expected to be challenged before the evening was over.

Abigail Staab agrees the difficulty in wrapping lies with the package.

Staab is a senior at FHSU and core team member of the organization.

"I was here throughout my high school, and I really enjoyed it. Now I'm back as a leader because I wanted to give teens under me the same opportunity and the same fun and joy that I had when I was in high school."

Taylor McClung, Ellis, dropped off a couple of small items to be wrapped.

"It's a lot easier," she said of having the gifts wrapped. "It's more convenient if you're trying to be sneaky while your mom's shopping with you."

McClung said she uses the service nearly every year.

Bailey Rome, a senior, said she really enjoys helping with the wrapping every year.

"It always makes someone's Christmas a little more special," she said.