Volunteer Journal #76 – Back to School Shopping

Bless the Salvation Army; they are efficient because they handle things simply.  To help underprivileged children buy new school clothes they teamed up with Target who offered each child an $80 gift card.  For some kids this would be the first time they would be able to buy new clothes and items for school.

I arrived at 8am, checked in with the Salvation Army representative and waited in a volunteer cluster.  Soon the volunteers were lined up on one side, the kids on the other and they pared us together.

I got paired with an adorable 8-year-old girl, we’ll call T because she’s a minor.  Her older brother and sister were also getting new school clothes and were chaperoned by two other volunteers.

Each chaperone was handed the Target gift card and told to let the kids get what they wanted for school as far as clothes and backpacks.  This was a rare treat for the kids; school supplies (like pencils, paper, folders) would be handled by another group.

T and I grabbed a little basket and headed into Target.

I don’t have kids, and so at this point I felt majorly outclassed by the other volunteers, who thankfully offered advice like, “If she wears an 8 buy a 9 because she’ll grow out of it in a month.” And “With only 80 shop the clearance racks.”

T wanted new shoes so we headed for that department.  She had a particular tennis shoe in mind, but when she realized Target didn’t carry the brand she gladly switched her wish to a pair of pink Hello Kitty sneakers (Buy stock in Hello Kitty – little girls are obsessed).

New pink tennis shoes acquired we went to clothes next. Little T took my hand and guided me through the section as she looked.  She picked out a number of cute options and we narrowed it down to panda t-shirt, Mickey sweatshirt, black leggings to go with both and the essentials underwear and socks.  Now the most important – the backpack.  The day was won when we found a fuzzy monkey backpack with plush squeezable zipper for $15 bucks.  We came in just over the amount because of tax but that was fine.  We backed up all her belongings in her backpack; she recycled the target plastic sacks herself in front of me.  A task that earned her a big hug.  T seemed thrilled with her finds.

I was about to leave when the volunteer coordinator asked if I would take one last little girl through who’s name was Jo.  She was a tiny skinny little thing and had arrived late. Her mother apologized saying they were looking for a place to stay.  No problem.

Jo had to wear a uniform, which we grabbed, and a Hello Kitty backpack, but when it came to shoes – I let Jo go a little wild and she was thrilled. Her purchase? Knee high black sparkly sneakers, good for running or being a fierce little girl in a plain school uniform. Only $5 more than standard sneakers.

I had a fun day. Even though I am an amateur shopper and have no kids everyone, including the little girls, were very patient and helpful. And let’s be honest, it’s fun to shop for little girl stuff, since I believe, though it’s been a while, that I was one once upon a time.

Guaranteed my little girls were the cutest little girls ever when they start to school.