HANFORD — Over the weekend, Soroptimist International of Hanford continued its longstanding tradition of taking local students on a back-to-school shopping spree.
The Back to School Child Spree is in its 27th year and still going strong thanks to numerous community partners and financial sponsors, said Suzanne Tabers, chairperson of the event.
The event is held to boost the self-esteem and confidence of Kings County students by having new clothes to start the school year.
This year, 250 pre-selected children from all over Kings County were each able to spend $150 at J.C. Penney in Hanford on Saturday.
Before the shopping, volunteers, chaperones and students arrived at the store around 6 a.m. to register. Tabers said the Knights of Columbus cooked breakfast for everybody and students met their chaperones.
Soroptimist has worked with J.C. Penney on this event for over a decade now.
“It’s definitely an event we’re blessed to have,” Tabers said.
She said not only do the students get to bond with an adult besides their parents, she said the students are able to choose their own clothes — something they may not get the chance to do very often. Local law enforcement officers from different agencies, business owners and teachers were among those who volunteered as chaperones.
Before joining Soroptimist four years ago, Tabers said she was a teacher so becoming a chaperone was a natural extension as someone who wants to better the lives of children.
Tabers said the longevity of the event is a testament to the people of Soroptimist and those who volunteer, some of whom have been a part of the event since its inception.
“I’m honored to be a part of this team,” Tabers said.
She also said the community is very supportive of the event, which has a lot of financial sponsors and dozens of community partners. Leprino Foods recently gave Soroptimist a grant that helped bump up the amount available per child from $125 to $150.
Soroptimist also gave away backpacks and school supplies that were donated from different community sponsors.
Tabers said it is a rewarding to see the kids’ smiles when they pick out brand new clothes, especially because some do not otherwise get the chance to go school shopping.
“It’s just like Christmas in August,” she said.