PENNSDALE - With the start of school right around the corner for area students, The Salvation Army and Target teamed up Tuesday to give over 30 local children the opportunity to get the gear and supplies needed to tackle the upcoming year of studies.
"Target partners with the Salvation Army and (the retail store) gives us 36 gift cards for low-income children to come here to shop," explained Amy McGovern, social services coordinator for the Salvation Army.
The Target School Shopping Spree helps students, kindergarten through 12th grade, across the nation. Target supplied gift cards worth a total of $960,000, which was split between the 40 divisions of the nonprofit organization.
This is the fourth year the Williamsport Salvation Army has participated in the program.
The children are chosen either by already being in a Salvation Army program or by being referred to the organization by their school.
Each student was paired with a volunteer chaperone, who lead them around the store in order to pickup the supplies needed for the year. Each student had about $80 to spend on new clothing, shoes, notebooks, binders and other items. Volunteers also were equipped with a list detailing the child's size and biggest need items, to ensure they pickup those supplies.
"The kids really like to pick out their own things," McGovern pointed out.
And in what could have been practice for the upcoming school year, each pair needed to keep track of their spending while making sure they got what they needed.
"It's a lot of fun," said Ashley DeWald, who has volunteered as a chaperone for the past two years. "But sometimes you have to make choices."
McGovern noted that each child gets at least one new outfit, which is a highlight for the first day for many students.
"We aim to have them get as many clothes as they can and fill in the rest with school supplies," McGovern said.
Target Manager Melissa Flick said the store was happy to help however they could.
"It's wonderful for the kids," she said. "We love doing the one-on-one shopping with them and finding what they need for the year."
And with many students leaving with bags of supplies, while thanking the volunteers, Volunteers were excited about the opportunity.
"It's fantastic," said DeWald. " ... Just to see how happy they are to be able to get something and how appreciative they are is incredible."