Daniel Garcia stood on a skateboard in an aisle of Target in Spring Valley, trying to coax his sister Elizabeth into looking at him.
Daniel, 10, of Suffern, had his arms extended out as far as they could reach to each side as he balanced. Not motionless, however, as he was doing his best to stay on the board while alternately shuffling an inch or so to his left and right. He called of his sister, asking her to look at him, which she did a few times and then turning back to their full shopping cart.
You can’t blame Daniel for hopping up on the skateboard, though, as he was just looking for another mode of transportation.
“We’ve done too much walking today,” Daniel said.
Daniel and Elizabeth, 14, were doing some back-to-school shopping at Target Monday night. Within the next few weeks, Daniel will begin third grade at R.P. Conner Elementary School and Elizabeth will move to high school by starting ninth grade at Suffern High School.
“I’m a little nervous,” she said. “I’ll be with all the big kids now.”
They both had to buy a lot of notebooks, pens, pencils, erasers and all your other typical school supplies, and they had $80 each to buy everything they needed. Daniel was a little more than $2 away from his max spending amount and picked up some reinforcements in case he accidentally rips any three-holed paper. Elizabeth had tens of dollars more to spend after getting everything she initially thought she’d need for the year ahead.
They were given the money as part of the Target Back to School Program, which is a yearly event sponsored by the Salvation Army Spring Valley Corps in which they team with Target to give a back-to-school shopping spree to children entering kindergarten through 12th grade that come from low income families. The event, which is in its third year, gives kids a chance to get school supplies, as well as clothes and sneakers, before starting a new school year.
“The people in the community were telling us they needed things to go back to school,” said Jill Muhs, of the Salvation Army. “We try to do what the community is asking for. And so when we were looking for a company to work with, Target was one that wanted to work with us.”
On Monday, 70 kids were given $80 to do their back-to-school shopping at target, and the entire day was funded by the Salvation Army.
“We raised the money as part of our Christmas in July efforts,” Muhs said.
Last month, the Salvation Army collected money like they also do around Christmas, except in July just to fund Monday night’s shopping spree. , that one giving 30 kids $85 gift cards to Target courtesy of the store.
For 40 kids, there were also backpacks filled with some additional school supplies that were donated to the event by the Spring Valley Rotary.
Each kid walked around the store with a volunteer from the Salvation Army, some people who volunteer for the event and others who are members of the Salvation Army church in Spring Valley. Allison Ward, of Suffern, Kathleen Ashcraft, of Nanuet, and Christine Russell-Pritchard, of Bardonia, were three volunteers on Monday, and all belong to the church, so they volunteer at a few different Salvation Army events.
While they said each kid needs different items, they did also note that this year seemed to have more elementary school-aged kids whereas in the past there were more teens. Still, shopping with young kids in a store with fairly prominent sections of toys, CDs and video games can come close to veering off track every now and then.
“We just have to keep them focused on things they need for school,” Ashcraft said. "They’re going to see the more fun things, but you just have to keep them focused on the things they need. Kids and kids and they’re going to want what they want.”
While it has the look of a handheld video game system, Raphael Gomez, 12, was a little weary of an item he had to buy before starting seventh grade at Haverstraw Middle School in a few weeks. And that was a Texas Instruments calculator, one he noted had quite a bit of buttons and some unfamiliar symbols.
Still, he’s excited to start school, where his favorite subject is math, although he also likes conducting experiments in science class. He was buying a bit of everything, from notebooks to pens to t-shirts. Maybe even more so than getting back to math, Gomez is excited about about what he called breakfast day.
“We just get to sit outside and eat breakfast all day,” he said.