This past Sunday morning, on August 5, around 130 excited students and their families started gathering as early as 5:30am outside of Kohl’s at the Great Mall.
Selected by the Milpitas Unified School District (MUSD) in accordance with their need, each student received a $100 gift card from Milpitas’ Kiwanis Club. Adult volunteers paired up with every student and took them into the store to shop for school clothes, while their parents waited either outside or inside, near the entrance, for them.
Among the adult volunteers were representatives from the Milpitas Police Department, the Milpitas Fire Department, MUSD staff, Milpitas High School Key Club members, elected officials, Kiwanis members, and other community members.
“There was one young man who came in, and he had a request for the Police Chief,” said Vice Mayor of Milpitas Marsha Grilli. “So the Police Chief came over and they went shopping together. It’s really heart-warming to see the community come together, and to see everyone support each other.”
Ron Lind has been part of the Kiwanis Club for roughly 20 years, and has served as a past President 5 times now; he is soon to be President again. Since the group is a small club of about 20 people, they rotate through positions quickly. “This event started before I joined the club so it must have been over 20 years ago. It used to be at Mervyn’s,” said Lind. “And we came here, and Kohl’s helped market it. There are a couple other Kiwanis clubs in the valley that do something similar.”
After each child came through the line and finished up at the register, he or she was handed a free backpack, loaded with school supplies, donated by the Nuñez Foundation, which is headed by Milpitas Councilmember Bob Nuñez.
“So we have about 150 backpacks. And we put in things from Staples, like paper, pencils, scissors, and rulers; things like that, so they’re ready for the first month of school. I think the parents and students are glad to get these,” said Nuñez, who has been a part of Kiwanis for the last 6 or 7 years, ever since he first moved to Milpitas. “It was a worthwhile donation. Every student that comes by is going to get one to get them ready for the school year.”
After stepping outside with their new items, many of the kids excitedly sifted through their bags, pulling out items to show their parents what they got.
Sanaiyah, 8, who will be going into the third grade next week, exclaimed, “Look, Mom!,” as she bursted out the door and pulled out a box of blue tennis shoes, socks, pants, shirts, a skirt, and even a sparkling necklace.
Sanaiyah’s brother had participated in the Kiwanis/Kohl’s event a few years ago, so she was enthused about being selected to attend this year.
Perhaps one of the event’s most special parts is the aspect of allowing students the freedom to shop and choose the things they want, without parental input. Sanaiyah’s mother, Stephanie Naylor, spoke of how initially Sanaiyah had been surprised that her mom wouldn’t be by her side throughout the experience: “My daughter, she first said to me, ‘Wait, you’re not going to help me shop, Mom?!'” said Naylor. “I told her, ‘No, you get to do it all by yourself.'”