At approximately 7 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 3, dozens of people were anxiously standing outside of the Kohl’s department store, at the Redlands Citrus Plaza.
The Boys & Girls Club of Greater Redlands-Riverside, the Kiwanis Club of Redlands Noon, Kiwanis Club of San Bernardino and the Redlands Elks lodge, held their annual back-to-school shopping spree for approximately 115 youngsters, from the Inland Empire.
The organizations involved provided an entourage of volunteers to assist during the event. The children were able to buy apparel and shoes that they wanted.
“It was good because we got to pick out our own stuff, without my mom there,” said an excited Joshua Ontiveros, of the shopping spree.
“My mom couldn’t say, nope, you don’t want that,” said Ontiveros with a smile.
“It was fun walking around the story with a bunch of kids and staff.”
The fourth grader was shopping at Kohl’s with his 8-year-old brother David.
Doug Cottingham was invited to attend with his daughter Miranda.
“It’s pretty awesome,” said Cottingham.
“We currently live in a travel trailer. This shopping spree is a big help. My daughter needs a new pair of shoes. I’m glad that she will go shopping with one of the volunteers and not me. I’m sure that it makes her feel independent.”
“This is special because every child deserves to go to school with a fresh start and a new pair of shoes,” said Kohl’s assistant store manager Taheya Estes. “When you have an opportunity to provide children with new school clothes, new shoes and a new backpack, it sets them up to achieve for the entire school year. I’m really proud of the Boys and Girls Club and the other groups for being able to provide this service for these children.”
“We started with helping 25 children,” said P.T. McEwen, CEO of the Boys & Girls Club. “When the children shop, it builds their self-esteem. They say, look at my new stuff. When children have a positive self-esteem, they will do better in school. It’s a wellness type of thing. This shopping event helps to start the school year right for these youngsters.”
Norma Roberts, a member of the Kiwanis of Redlands Noon, enjoyed helping the children shop in the early hours, on a Saturday morning.
Roberts was one of the volunteer shoppers who was paired with excited shopper Miranda Cottingham.
Cottingham found a stylish pair of Vans shoes, at the onset of her shopping spree.
“This is wonderful,” said Roberts. “We’ve been doing this for years. I love doing it. The kids come out with some really nice things for themselves, they appreciate it. The children are all so nice. I think their parents appreciate this, too, especially with buying of shoes.”
Before shopping, the parents filled out a form with items that are needed, such as socks, shirts, shorts and other apparel.
In the end, dozens of smiles exited the store, as children of all ages, carried their bags of new school clothes, backpacks and shoes, to start off a brand new school year, thanks to the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Redlands-Riverside, Kiwanis Club of Redlands Noon, Kiwanis Club of Redlands and the Redlands Elks Lodge.