'Great Start 2013' gives Mich. students a shopping spree

By: Michael Lewis Email
By: Michael Lewis Email

Cassopolis and Dowagiac students, first through fourth grades, searched through the Benton Harbor Target Shopping Center to buy clothes for the upcoming school year.

“We have six buses full of kids and their parents,” said Cyndy Gumpert, Great Start Coordinator. “Each kid gets to bring one parent. So then, target divides it into four sections and they take the groups into those sections and move them through the store."

It's part of the Great Start 2013 initiative, a private one-hour shopping spree.

Each student was able to spend $200 on anything and the entire cost was paid in full by the Mcloughlin Family Foundation.

Teachers selected students based on certain criteria.

“First of all its financial need,” Gumpert explained. “Secondly they need to have good attendance in school, good work ethics and they have to be a good student in order to qualify for this.”

Parents and their children packed their carts full with shirts, shorts, pants, socks, shoes and even some school supplies.

“They just look so happy and they are so excited. They just get to pick out whatever they want and nobody is saying no you can't get that or you got too much,” she added.

Kids tried to get whatever they could get their hands on, but parents were just grateful for the opportunity.

“I think it’s amazing,” said Brooke Smith, who brought her daughter. “It’s kind of crowded but it’s amazing. Anything that she can get is a blessing."

Others were happy to spend time with their kids and save a little pocket change.

“Oh today was fun,” said Eddie Rixter, who brought his son. ”Although we didn't get a lot stuff; the girls beat us. But, it was fun. It’s great for them to do this for the kids.That was nice! Because he's got a birthday in two weeks so we got to get more shopping. So, that was great to save a little bit of money.”

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