TEMECULA, Calif. – (Aug. 21, 2017) – Most of the time, it’s just the rich and famous for whom a store will close down so they may shop in private. On a recent Saturday morning, 205 deserving Temecula, Murrieta and Menifee children received a shopping spree all their own at the Temecula JC Penney before the doors opened to the public. The ChildSpree program, coordinated through the local chapter of the Salvation Army, set kids ages
5 through 18 up with backpacks, school supplies, a $125 JC Penney Gift Card and volunteer personal shoppers. Working in pairs, the child and his or her volunteer made their way through the abundance of neatly stacked shirts, rows of shoes and socks, and round clothing racks of pants and skirts. Volunteers helped select correct sizes and items to match the needs on the child’s list, and the kids got to give their input without the influence of their parents.
Pechanga provided 120 of the 205 volunteers needed to chaperone the kids, in addition to $7,000 toward a shopping spree for 56 kids. The Pechanga Fire Department also brought out a ladder truck and firemen answered questions as the children climbed through the truck.
“To see the smiles on the kids’ faces when they hold up a new pair of shoes or a jacket they wouldn’t have otherwise been able to have, it’s incredibly heartwarming,” said Heather Holmes, Pechanga’s Community Relations Manager. “Pechanga does a lot in the community for worthy programs such as this, but when you get to experience firsthand the impact it makes on families and their children, it’s very touching.”
“The families we help most often cannot afford to send their children back to school with new clothes or shoes,” said Lt. John Birks, Corps Officer of the Murrieta Salvation Army. “The generosity of Pechanga and other companies in our region is humbling. These kids perform better and will do better in school because they’re confident about their clothes. It’s all about setting them up for success.”
Statistics from ed-data.org show the percentage of children in the Temecula, Murrieta and Menifee school districts receiving free and reduced-price school meals went up several percentage points in each district from 2015 to 2016, signaling an increase in the number of families needing assistance.
“Pechanga has long upheld a tradition of providing critical resources for the children and families of our community,” said Edith Atwood, President of the Pechanga Development Corporation. “Helping children start the school year with the supplies they need for a successful school year, is good for their future and the future of our community.”