Two local service clubs and volunteers took 80 youth from Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Redlands-Riverside “back-to-school” shopping on Aug. 8.
Kiwanis Club of Redlands-Noon and Kiwanis Club of San Bernardino paid for the youth to each get $100 worth of clothes, shoes, socks and other essentials at Kohl’s in Redlands. A service club or community volunteer was paired with each young person and accompanied them around the store.
“The Kiwanis Club of San Bernardino is excited to help with the shopping spree every year,” said president Liz Silvius. “Our volunteers always enjoy the opportunity to help the kids of San Bernardino, and this event is an awesome way to meet and directly help out the kids in our area. We sponsored and shopped with 30 kids this year and will be excited for next year, as well.”
“I have been a part of this event since its inception,” said P.T. McEwen, president of the Kiwanis Club of Redlands and CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs. “This event makes people happy. It is especially meaningful in light of the chaos in the world today. The volunteers are excited they can bring some happiness to the kids. The kids here feel special. I am proud to be a Kiwanian and be a part of this act of goodness.”
Donna Ferracone, who organizes Kiwanis Club of Redlands volunteers for the shopping spree, said that even with the extra precautions, “the kids were as excited as they ever are, and so were the adults.”
She said it was the club’s first service project since the COVID-19 lockdown in spring.
“We got to help kids and that’s the most important thing … it’s nice to have the Kohl’s event; it’s a day the club really likes.”
All adults and youth in the store wore masks, physically distanced and used hand sanitizer, and kids’ temperatures were checked before entering the store.
Beatriz Santa Maria, whose children participated in the shopping spree, said she appreciated the kindness of the volunteers and Club staff.
“My kids love everything they bought,” she said.
Club senior vice president Mark Davis said that with all the hardship from COVID-19, “we wanted to make sure that our members who need it most are prepared for a successful school year, even though it’s virtual. And we couldn’t do it without the generosity of Kiwanis and the community. We’re thankful that so many volunteers came to take the kids shopping.”
In addition to the shopping spree, each child and teen got a backpack filled with school supplies. Michael’s stores and local Seventh-day Adventist churches have been collecting back-to-school items for Club members.