Press-Republican

August 15, 2013

Shopping spree helps ready kids for school

ASHLEIGH LIVINGSTON
Press-Republican

PLATTSBURGH — Nine-year-old Brianna Squailia will kick off the upcoming school year with some new duds.

“I feel great,” said the Cumberland Head Elementary student as she perused the children’s clothing in Plattsburgh’s Target store on Wednesday morning. “I like shopping.”

Brianna is one of 34 Plattsburgh-area students who each received an $81 store gift card to purchase back-to school supplies as part of Wednesday’s Target School Spree.

Since 2009, the big-box store has sponsored the event at various locations across the nation in an effort to help students in kindergarten through high school who might not otherwise be able to buy academic necessities.

This year, the Target at Champlain Centre mall was among nearly 500 chosen to participate in the spree and team up with their local Salvation Armies, which then selected children from the community to receive the gift cards.

“It’s a terrific thing that the Target store does prior to the school year,” said Plattsburgh Salvation Army Envoy Frank Smith, who helped coordinate this year’s School Spree, the first to be held locally.

Kids in every community need school supplies, he noted, and some of those children come from struggling homes.

“We just appreciate Target so much giving us the opportunity to serve the community in this way,” Smith said.

VOLUNTEER CHAPERONS

Students selected to take part in the spree arrived at the store just as it opened and were matched with a volunteer chaperon to help them navigate the aisles and assist with their purchases.

Each child came with a shopping list and was allowed to use the gift cards to buy what he or she needed, such as clothing, shoes, pencils and paper — as long as it was for school.

“It’s all 100 percent geared to be back-to-school supplies, so whatever that particular family’s need is in terms of getting their child prepared for school, that’s what that money is set aside for,” said Ryan Hamel, executive team leader of Hard Lines at the local Target.

Like Brianna, who was on a mission to find socks during the spree, fellow gift-card recipient Sarah Davidson was also shopping for new clothes.

The 11-year-old Stafford Middle School student said she hoped to find “some quarter-length-sleeves and long-sleeve shirts and jeans for school in the wintertime.”

WISE SHOPPING

In addition to helping the kids stock up on gear, the chaperons, among them Stephanie Conroy, used the spree as an opportunity to teach her youthful shopping companions about managing money and making wise purchases.

“I love kids, and I’ve never had to do this as an adult,” she said of back-to-school shopping, “so I think it’s a fun thing for me to do and get involved with the community with.

“I love Target, I love shopping, and we’re having fun.”

The store’s employees, according to Hamel, also embraced the event and the opportunity to help and interact with the kids.

“We’re really excited to do it,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of really great schools in our area, and we also recognize that we’re kind of an under-served community, so that’s why we were so excited to finally get this event in our particular store.”

Email Ashleigh Livingston:alivingston@pressrepublican.com