Keegan Julius, 10, and his volunteer chaperone Jasmine Moody review the supply list at the annual Salvation Army/Target Back to Schoool Shopping Spree on Thursday. (Laura Shimabuku/Special to West Hawaii Today)
Azlana Sales, 14, right, picks up supplies from her list with the help of her volunteer chaperone Lani Metcalf at the annual Salvation Army/Target Back to School Shopping Spree on Thursday. (Laura Shimabuku/Special to West Hawaii Today)
Shaden Ryder Ako, 6, looks through clothes at the annual Salvation Army/Target Back to Schoool Shopping Spree on Thursday. (Laura Shimabuku/Special to West Hawaii Today)
Tymani Hardie, 5, and volunteer chaperone Alaho Zintseme browse through shoes at the annual Salvation Army/Target Back to School Shopping Spree on Thursday. (Laura Shimabuku/Special to West Hawaii Today)
Students and volunteers took part in a treasure hunt of sorts at Target Thursday morning.
Children wandered the aisles in the school supply section, picking up pens, markers and folders, finding just the right colors and designs, while their chaperones checked their lists and made sure the more practical items — erasers, filler paper and notebooks — landed in the cart, as well.
The search was part of an annual partnership between the Kailua-Kona store and Salvation Army. The store donated 70 $80 gift cards, and the nonprofit screened and selected applicants for the shopping spree, Salvation Army’s Kona Lt. Kelly Pensabene said.
“This is so grand,” Pensabene said, watching children eating a snack and showing their finds to friends in the store’s break room. “It’s amazing. These kids need it.”
The Salvation Army received more applications for the program, in its third year, than it could grant, she added. The program is limited to one family per child, to maximize how many families can benefit from Target’s donations.
Brittany Raymond, 13, talked with chaperone Cindy Lullo about her favorite subject — music — as they crossed the store to pick out supplies. Raymond, who will be a Kealakehe High School freshman, said she isn’t super excited about going back to school, but she was enjoying the shopping.
She said it’s nice that Target provides the gift cards.
“It means they know how to provide for their town,” she said.
Trinity Abordo, 9, was focusing on new clothes during her shopping outing. Her cart had several T-shirts, including two with Hello Kitty and a matching hat. Abordo, who will be in the fourth grade at Kahakai Elementary School, where she likes reading, science and playing with her friends at recess, said she had some school supplies.
The best part of Thursday’s event, she said, was the shopping itself.
“I don’t really shop with my parents,” Abordo said. “I like shopping for shirts and clothes.”
She also said it was nice that Target puts on the shopping spree.
“Some kids don’t have shoes or clothes,” she said. “It’s really helpful.”
Kealakehe High sophomore Azlana Sales, 14, agreed.
“It helps us, especially if our parents aren’t able to afford it,” Sales said. “It helps us get what we need.”
Volunteer May Cook chauffeured a 5-year-old boy around the store, helping him select just the right supplies, including a blue pencil box, and the right outfits.
“He knows what he wants,” Cook said, laughing as she recounted how the boy rejected an orange shirt because he didn’t like it.
Cook said she’s been volunteering “from the beginning,” and she said she makes sure to shop at Target, too, because she appreciates the company’s commitment to helping out the community.
Being a chaperone is a positive experience, she said.
“I can spend money — not my money — and have fun with the kids,” the Keauhou resident said.
The shopping spree ties together some of the company’s key focuses, said Nicole Mailhot, executive team leader of hard lines at the store.
The company works to do “what’s best for our guests and for our community,” Mailhot said. “It’s about being able to give back.”
Salvation Army is a great partner, she added.
While out helping the young shoppers, she noticed many Target employees also pitched in, helping kids find clothes and shoes in their size, and giving hugs to children and volunteers they recognized.
“It’s such a small town,” she said. “Everyone is connected.”