Dreams of go-carts rumble around the inside of 6-year-old Briton Wheeler’s head.
For almost a year, he and his older brother Josh, 11, have been saving up their allowances, selling aluminum cans and manning lemonade stands to buy themselves go-carts.
Briton already has the $500 he needs to purchase the 3-horsepower Quicksilver street model he desires, but his big heart has forced the go-cart plan to swerve temporarily off-track.
Over the weekend, he spent $100 of his savings on boys less fortunate than himself.
“I care for the poor,” Briton said shortly before a shopping spree at NorthTown Mall. “They don’t have as good of stuff as we do.”
Briton’s parents and brother Josh swear it was Briton’s idea to donate a portion of his hard-earned cash to charity.
“He’s our social conscience in the family,” said his father, Bret Wheeler, as he followed his son down the mall escalator. “It’s hard to pinpoint when he got it. He feels really lucky and feels really bad when he sees a street kid.”
The charitable idea originated last summer when Briton decided to hold a yard sale for the go-cart project.
“We got the idea of a go-cart when we came in from riding our bikes in a mud puddle,” Briton explained. “We were slow, and we needed to go faster.”
As much as he wants a go-cart, Briton didn’t mind slowing down the fund raising for a greater cause. He pledged to donate half of his yard sale proceeds to charity. He raised more than $200 from selling items he collected from his family and neighbors.
On his recent shopping excursion, Briton gripped five $20 bills as he headed toward the Tree of Sharing.
His mother, Stephanie Wheeler, helped him select three tags from the tree; one for a 41-year-old woman, one for a 4-year-old boy, and one for a 6-year-old boy.
Briton could identify with the 6-year-old, who wanted something having to do with Batman.
“I know what he wants. It’s pretty cool,” said Briton, whose Batman sneakers whisked him through the mall’s crowded corridors to the Batman figurines in a toy store.
But first, Briton purchased the boy a couple of long-sleeved shirts at the Emporium.
“They made one sleeve short and the other long,” Briton exclaimed, as he held one shirt crookedly up to himself.
“You’re going to play Santa Claus this year, huh?” the perky sales clerk asked Briton when she saw his tags from the Tree of Sharing.
Briton nodded and collected his change. Josh slung an arm around his little brother’s shoulders and off they went to Naturium, a natural-science store.
The brothers almost ran into the store, and were riveted by the display of holographic dinosaurs, sharks and human brains.
“It looks like it’s coming out of the picture,” a wide-eyed Briton told his mother. A second later he decided to purchase a Pinhead for the 4-year-old boy.
The Pinhead product temporarily models impressions made from pushing something, like a face, into the surface of hundreds of heavy, movable pins.
Mom was skeptical.
“He thinks that’s the coolest thing in the whole store,” she said. “What do I know? I’m not 6 years old. He told me you can put your G.I. Joe figures in there and make a model.”
“But it is the coolest thing in the store,” Josh said.
“OK, confirmed by an 11-year-old,” Stephanie Wheeler said, conceding to the taste of the younger generation.
Next stop was Sears for a futile search of a grow light for the 41-year-old woman. Then they moved on to a toy store to buy a Batmobile and Blast Cape Batman figurines (with assault blades and launching attack caps) for each of the boys on their list.
Briton also got them some neon Play-Doh, a tool kit and an American Chief play set with suction cup arrows.
Briton still had a wad of money, but Josh asked, “Is this all going to be under $100?”
His mother wasn’t sure, but if it came in over $100, “then Mom kicks in,” she said.
After several minutes in line at the cash register, the Wheelers were nearly done. They just needed the grow light. They were almost within budget, having spent $110.
“I think these kids are going to have a good Christmas this year,” Josh tells his brother.
“Yeah,” Briton answered.
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color photo
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