Back to school

Three youths and an airman from Luke discuss clothing choices during the event.

For the 12th consecutive year, The Salvation Army Sun Cities West Valley Corps Community Center and Walmart teamed up to provide neighbors most in need in the West Valley with vital back-to-school clothing. The shopping event took place July 25 at the Walmart Peoria Supercenter, 21655 N. Lake Pleasant Parkway.

Around 40 volunteers, including personnel from Luke Air Force Base, helped families shop at Walmart for new clothes for children.

Each school-aged child in each family received a $75 Walmart gift card to shop for clothing and shoes. Walmart management offered additional discounts to enable families to increase their purchasing power.

Each family in attendance applied in May to qualify to attend the event.

Capt. Kathy Merritt of The Salvation Army Sun Cities West Valley Corps said, “We had 400 kids and that represented 148 families. There was a lot of fun, too. We do that every year. We qualify them so they’re in poverty guidelines. The first 400 are the first to go shopping; the same 400 kids come to The Salvation Army and gather backpacks and school supplies.”

Merritt said the children come from Peoria, El Mirage, Surprise and Youngtown.

“It’s hardly ever the same families,” Merritt said. “It’s usually families that have had some sort of crisis; job loss or moved, no money to fix the air conditioner. If they have four or five kids, that’s a crisis itself.

“This whole endeavor, with the shopping and school supplies, costs about $30,000. God provides. We needed about $33,000 and that’s exactly what we got. Without donations, we just could not do it.”

If individuals wish to donate, call 623-977-1084. Donations also can be sent by check to P.O. 1099, Sun City, AZ 85372.