Back-to-school shopping turned out to be a thrill for 13-year-old Elisha Ellison as he joined 29 other students for a free shopping spree Tuesday at the Target store on Kent’s East Hill.
“I thought it was a pretty cool chance to get school clothes,” said Ellison, of Renton, who had T-shirts, long-sleeve shirts and cargo pants in his shopping cart, funded by an $80 gift card provided by Target to each student through the Salvation Army. “I need some.”
Target donated more than $26,000 to the Salvation Army for more than 300 students to shop for school clothes at 11 stores in the Puget Sound area. Nationwide, the store chain has given nearly $1 million to the Salvation Army to help nearly 12,000 children pay for school clothes and supplies at 500 Target stores.
Shirley Harris, service coordinator for the Salvation Army’s South King County emergency-service center in Kent, said the students were selected because of their participation, or their families’ involvement, at the local branch. The Kent center also serves the communities of Auburn, Algona, Pacific and Covington.
“They all found what they needed,” Harris said of the 30 students ages 5 to 17 who participated in the shopping spree. “No one said they haven’t found something.”
Target also provided the students with snacks and drinks after shopping.
“Look at them, not one child is not happy,” Harris said as she watched the children excitedly eating in the cafe.
Nevaeh Moseley, 9, of Kent, struggled a bit to find the items she wanted. She looked for pink pants, but didn’t see any among the many racks of clothes.
“I found some,” Moseley said as she spotted some gray pants that she thought might work for her.
Moseley ended up with an umbrella, shoes and pants in her cart.
“It’s tiring,” she said, of shopping.
Mosely also became a bit nervous when she spotted a newspaper photographer taking her photo.
“Paparazzi,” she noted.
Volunteer chaperones escorted the students around the store.
Liz Petersen, of Auburn, came away impressed with how Ellison shopped.
“He’s a good shopper,” Petersen said. “He found $4 T-shirts. He was all over the sales rack.”
This marked the second year Target has offered the shopping spree for youngsters preparing for school, and the first time the Kent store has been involved. Last year, students from the Kent area had to travel to a Bellevue store to participate.
Cheryl Richards, a front-end manager at the Kent Target, enjoyed watching the kids enter the store for the big shopping trip.
“There was a ton of enthusiasm,” Richards said. “We let them in the store about 5 to 10 minutes early. Thirty kids got $80 cards and it was fun to see the joy on the kids’ faces because they were so excited.”
Harris said the donation by Target helped a lot, but the Salvation Army could use even more donations to its Kent center.
“We’d like the community to remember we always need donations,” Harris said. “We are running low on school supplies. We also need bell ringers, which is our biggest fundraiser.”
To donate or volunteer to the Kent office of the Salvation Army, call Harris at 253-852-4983. For the Salvation Army Web site, go to www.salvationarmyusa.org.