At 8 a.m. on a recent Tuesday morning, an energetic group of kids and volunteers gathered in the Target at the Glendale Galleria for an early morning shopping trip. Once a year, the store schedules extra staff and sets up a welcome station with snacks and giveaways so The Salvation Army can take local children through the aisles for a back to school shopping spree sponsored by the Kiwanis Club of Glendale.
“What may seem like a trivial thing to many families is a point of crisis for the working poor. As a childhood victim of bullying centered around what I could afford to wear to school, I know a lot about how important that first day of school outfit is,” said The Salvation Army’s Executive Director Lt. Joshua Sneed. “Something about new clothes and school supplies makes a child feel ready for the first day of school, and we’re so grateful to have an opportunity to share that with these kids.”
The Glendale Kiwanis Club’s support of this event has become an annual tradition, with the service club committing $2,000 each summer to the shopping trip. The kids bring a list from home of needed clothes and supplies while volunteers from The Salvation Army and Kiwanis help them keep track of their $90 gift card balance. Glendale City Clerk Ardy Kassakhian, a longtime supporter and chaperone, has witnessed how important this role can be.
“One of the kids I chaperoned had a list of clothes he had to get, and then he spent a lot of time at the books section trying to figure out what he could put back so he could afford one. My wife and I were so touched by his desire for reading and his need for clothes that we told him he could afford the books. How could you turn away a child who wants to read?”
Many of the children selected to receive assistance also attend The Salvation Army’s Zone After School program, where they receive year round tutoring in literacy and math, help with homework, and a safe, free place to play. It’s the only program of its kind in South Glendale, where the need is great and the resources few.