PENNSDALE - With a new school year quickly approaching, the local Salvation Army and Target recently joined forces to help 30 local students take care of some back-to-school needs.
Divided into two groups with 15 students each, volunteers from the Salvation Army helped the youngsters shop and go through the check-out registers, armed with gift cards from Target.
"In partnering with the Salvation Army, (Target) provides (the gift cards)," said Salvation Army Capt. Debbie Engel. "Our responsibility is to identify families with kids in need and volunteers."
CRAIG S. McKIBBEN JR./Sun-Gazette
Williamsport Corps Commanding Officer Capt. Debbie Engel, left, helps Kyeodia Hoover, 9, of Williamsport, shop for clothing Friday morning at Target in the Lycoming Crossing Shopping Center.
Yaminah Merando, who will be a sixth-grader at Loyalsock Township Middle School, focused her attention on clothes, specifically her favorite color - pink.
'A pink freak'
"I love it," she said. "I am a pink freak."
Local school bells to ring at end of next week
Muncy schools soon will start the county's school year off, as its first bell is set to ring Aug. 23.
Students return to the classroom Aug. 27 in the East Lycoming, Jersey Shore, Montgomery and Williamsport school districts. And a day later, on Aug. 28, Loyalsock Township, Montoursville and South Williamsport will get start school years.
Guiding her around the store, helping her find the best deals and pushing the cart was her helper Charlotte Gordon, of Williamsport, who described herself as the token Jewish woman of the group.
This was her first year helping with the Target school spree. While Gordon had not previously worked with the project, she has been a part of the Salvation Army Auxiliary for 15 years.
Target has participated in the event since the store opened at 170 S. Lycoming Mall Road, Pennsdale, four years ago, said store team leader Jenna Glass.
"It's a great event we sponsor every year," she said. "It helps get us involved with the community ... It's always something the team looks forward to."
As Merando and Gordon moved through the store, they tried to decide which top matched which pants and laughed over some of the sayings on T-shirts.
"Each child gets $80 to spend, which is a fantastic thing considering there's 30 kids," Gordon said.
In her earlier group, she had a young boy who had a little bit of extra money left on his gift card and decided to spend it on a watch because he never had one.
" 'Well now you do,' " she said.
Seeing the eyes of children light up when they find the items they want made the day worth it for her.
Like Gordon, it was the first time for Ina Rae Kyle and Pastor Marian Anderson, of Trout Run, to volunteer for the shopping trip.
Both of the women went over the purchases and had to put some of the items back.
"When they're little, they don't cost as much," said Anderson. "It seems like a lot of money, but with 20 here and 20 there, it all adds up."
All of the volunteers needed clearance forms before they could participate. The Salvation Army transported the students on buses.
Parents fill out forms for the children to help volunteers know what items are most needed and what sizes. Some of the children could focus their purchases on clothing because they later will receive a backpack full of school supplies near the end of the month at the Salvation Army's Back to School Night.
"I think it went really, really well," Engel said. "The volunteers are having a good time."
As the students waited at the check-out line to see if they had enough money for one more item, like Merando with her fingers crossed, Target also provided popcorn and water.