Hundreds of volunteers from the Salvation Army joined forces with 550 area kids Thursday on a back-to-school shopping trip designed to reduce the financial strain of getting ready for the school year.
The Salvation Army's annual "Leaders Launching Learners" program pairs volunteers with area kids in need and provides each $80 for each child to purchase new clothes for the school year.
"If we can relieve some of the money that they [parents] spend on school clothing, going back to school for their children, then they can also spend that perhaps on food or utilities, or other necessities that they need the money for," said Major Jeff Strickler of the Salvation Army.
At a Brooklyn Park store, 10-year-old Brian Humphrey's shopping cart was filled with a pair of pants, several shirts, a pair of shoes, and some socks. As Humphrey proudly showed off his purchases, he expressed relief that his mother wouldn't have to cover the cost of his new clothes.
"My mom won't have to pay for that much or use all her money," said Humphrey.
The National Retail Federation estimates each household will spend on average $688 this year getting their children ready to head back to school.
Donations to the Salvation Army cover the $44,000 cost of outfitting 550 kids with new clothes. Strickler said he believes it's money well spent.
"It's so nice to give children new school supplies when they return to school, and I think that does a lot to boost their self–esteem," said Strickler.
Alexandra Renslo reporting
August 9, 2012