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Students get new school supplies with help from Salvation Army, Target

Alex Ortiz | 7/25/2013, 9:17 a.m.
When Giovanni Hernandez goes back to school next month, he’ll have brand new school supplies that he may otherwise not ...
A Salvation Army representative helps a student shop at Target for school supplies. By Alex Ortiz

When Giovanni Hernandez goes back to school next month, he’ll have brand new school supplies that he may otherwise not have had thanks to the Salvation Army. Hernandez was one of 10 Joliet elementary students chosen by the Salvation Army to receive an $81 gift card from Target to shop for school supplies. The program will also help 300 other local students from kindergarten through 12th grades in need of supplies and clothes for the upcoming school year.

The Target at 2701 Plainfield Road in Joliet hosted the shopping spree on July 23. Salvation Army Lt. Claudia Simmons and the group of students and chaperones spent nearly an hour and a half looking through the store’s selection of supplies while attempting to stay within their budget, something Hernandez was determined to do.

“I like having extra money left over and I like picking my own stuff,” he said.

Hernandez and Simmons were paired for the event and while Simmons may have had a bit more experience shopping, she said Hernandez helped keep the process on track.

“He had the whole empowerment,” she said. “It’s what we were doing today…He made sure he kept in the budget. He was actually trying to help me stay in budget, so that was nice.”

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Salvation Army-Target Shopping Spree

The chaperones and students worked diligently to make sure that they were within the $81 budget. Target provided many back-to-school deals that helped them get everything the kids needed, which students, like Yoloxochitl Huerta, understand to be very important for them.

“It’s really about getting things ready for school,” Huerta said. “School is about learning and having experience.”

Tycee Bell, Huerta’s chaperone, and the Salvation Army are determined to give back to the children who are involved in their programs through their churches, especially when it is not certain that the kids will be fully prepared for school.

“It’s really important to the Salvation Army that we meet families’ needs,” Bell said. “And they have large families too sometimes so it’s really important to us to make sure they have an opportunity.”

Salvation Army representatives, like Crystal Matamoros also took some satisfaction in helping out. She assisted Ana Nagra in getting her supplies.

“It’s really nice because I get to give back (and) help them,” Matamoros said. “I miss shopping for myself like when I was little.”

Nationwide, Target has given the Salvation Army $1 million in gift cards and transportation services since 2009. Nearly 500 Target stores are participating in the shopping spree between July 15 and August 15 and they are on track to donate $1 billion by the end of 2015. With so much money and time spent on giving students what they need to succeed, even the kids realize how lucky they are to have what many of us take for granted.

“I really liked it very much,” Huerta said. “But the most important thing is to thank the Salvation Army Corps.”