TEMECULA, Calif. – (Aug. 19, 2019) – A lot of kids in the Inland Empire region of Southern California packed their backpacks for their first day back to school on Wednesday, August 14. One hundred ninety-six of those kids are now donning brand new clothes, shoes, socks and maybe even some accessories thanks to a very special back-to-school shopping spree hosted by the Murrieta Salvation Army branch and several area businesses including Pechanga Resort Casino.
At 6 a.m. Saturday, August 3, more than 140 Pechanga team members clad in teal-blue, team member t-shirts filled the Temecula JC Penney parking lot. Each waited to be partnered with a child – ages five through 18 – who they would walk with to pick out new clothes and shoes. The pairs entered armed with $125 gift cards largely provided from a Pechanga donation to the Salvation Army. Shopping before the store opened to the public, and without the watchful eyes of their parents, the kids could relax and select items that fit them and their styles. After emerging from the department store with their volunteers, the deserving children made their way to a giant tent in the parking lot where they could pick from hundreds of backpacks. But that was not all. They filled those backpacks with school supplies – pens, pencils, crayons, notepads and more.
Marlene Moore, the chef for Pechanga’s Temptations Food Walk, not only echoed the importance of giving back, she put her crew behind it. For the third consecutive year, Moore brought many of her team members along as personal shoppers.
“It means the world. There’s so much excitement around when we have these different activities and it’s just so easy to get volunteers because we want to do this and we feel a joy in just giving back and making a big difference in the community,” said Moore.
Salvation Army coordinators said kids focus on school and doing well in classes when their self-esteems are boosted by their clothes. This can boost their education and help better break the cycle of poverty.
Pechanga has participated in the annual Childspree event for more than 10 years.