Oliver Villagomez (right) of Wildomar looks over a pair of pants at JC Penney in Temecula with his volunteer shopper, Pechanga’s Garret Wilson

TEMECULA, Calif. – (Aug. 8, 2018) – On the surface, it seems so simple: a new pair of pants,  new pair of Nikes, a nice sweatshirt, a new backpack. But for 225 local underserved children, the simple ability to pick out a new outfit for school is anything but simple.

It is an act of joy.

On Saturday, August 4, those underserved children from Murrieta, Temecula, Lake Elsinore and Wildomar were treated to a private, early morning back-to-school shopping spree at the Temecula JC Penney. Coordinated by the Murrieta chapter of the Salvation Army, the popular ChildSpree program gave those children – ages 5 through 18 – $125 JC Penney gift cards for clothes and school supplies.

The children were paired with volunteers, including 94 from Pechanga Resort Casino, who served as their personal shoppers, helping the kids find clothes they liked without parental influence. After making their purchases, the kids made their way down a line where backpacks, breakfast and appointments for free back-to-school haircuts from JC Penney’s salon awaited.

Nearly 100 Pechanga Team Members participated as personal shoppers in ChildSpree 2018.

“It brings joy to my heart, because we are helping those in the most need with clothing and some new shoes,” said Lt. John Birks, Corps Officer of the Murrieta Salvation Army. “This allows a child to be able to go to school with new clothes. You might see that one child who might have holes in their shoes, who may not have the best clothes, and this gives them a big leap forward. It gives them esteem.”

Suzanne Farwell of Temecula was sitting outside with many of the other parents, waiting for her 9-year-old son, Robert, to return from his shopping spree.

“It is a blessing to have this program to help our kids with their clothes and needs, because some of the parents can’t provide for everything,” she said. “It’s a blessing. It brightens him. He’s happy he’s able to get some stuff I can’t provide for him.”

For more information on Pechanga Resort Casino community events, visit pechanga.com.