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Students treated to Target shopping spree
Twenty Yuma-area third-graders had big smiles on their faces and their hands full of gifts as they got to do a little early-morning Christmas shopping Tuesday at Target in the Yuma Palms mall.
The event, themed “Believe and Achieve,” was the result of a partnership between Target and the Yuma Police Department to recognize elementary school students from low-income families who excel in the classroom.
“They got to go through the store and buy whatever they wanted,” said Kat Turner, the store's executive team leader for asset protection. “A lot of them were buying gifts for other people, which is really cool. I think everybody had a really good time.”
YPD Sgt. Leanne Worthen said Turner approached the public affairs unit several months ago about wanting to put together a community event for children and asked the department to apply for a $1,000 grant from the company.
“Target, as a company, is focused on childhood education and reading,” Turner said. “We believe that if the child can read well by the third grade, they have a better chance to go on to pursue higher education.”
Turner said she wanted the focus to be on children from low-income families, which often struggle to make ends meet, especially during the holidays.
“Sometimes, for children who came from low-income families, it is just a harder struggle to believe you can get to where you want to get to. We want them to know that no matter what, if you believe in yourself and work hard, you will achieve the things you want.”
Prior to the shopping spree, the students and their parents met with store employees and officers from the public affairs unit in a brief ceremony, where they were each given $50 gift cards to use as they choose. The students were chosen by their respective schools.
“A lot of these kids have never been to a Target, yet for trying really hard and being good students, here they are today getting $50 of their own to spend any way they want. I think it is an awesome, awesome thing,” Worthen said.
The store employees, police officers and parents seemed just as happy as the students they led them down the aisles to search for purchases.
Myah Bibby, an 8-year-old student at Valley Horizon, knew exactly what she wanted and wasted no time heading into the store to get herself a purse. She also got a DVD movie and pink nail polish.
Myah's mother, Josepha, said she was extremely proud of her daughter's hard work in the classroom. “She likes school and never wants to miss a day. She is also always on the school's honor roll.”
To be selected, each of the students had to write an essay about what profession they were interested in. Myah, whose favorite subjects are math and reading, wrote about wanting to be a nurse “so I can help people.”
Worthen and Turner hope to make the shopping spree an annual event and would like to have twice as many students next year.
“We applied for the grant this year and got it, so we are definitely going to apply again next year,” Turner said. “Hopefully we can touch the lives of more kids next year.”
James Gilbert can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 539-6854. Find him on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/YSJamesGilbert or on Twitter @YSJamesGilbert.