When Target opened their new store in Kona, many were filled with excitement at the prospect of having another shopping venue in town. Just when I was beginning to wonder if it was prudent to have yet another ‘big box’ in our small village, they go and do something terrific for our community, allowing me second thoughts about their existence.
Fifty (50) lucky West Hawaii students were selected for a back-to-school shopping spree, sponsored by the Target store in Kona. The Salvation Army contributed by selecting the young participants and also arranging for volunteer shopping-chaperones, as no parents were allowed to accompany their children while they used their $80 gift cards to purchase anything that can be used for school.
On August 10th, Kona Babes Mei, Rachel and Tina each dedicated two hours with their assigned students (kindergarten through 12th grade), guiding their shopping process. All children arrived with lists and were at first apprised of the “shopping rules” by store representatives. Then they were let loose with their chaperones to buy whatever was on their wishlist, as long as it was within the limits of the gift card amount.
Mei later recounted that her ‘charge’ was a shy and softspoken 6-year old girl who soon warmed up to her while they admired a “Hello Kitty” backpack. They were able to purchase everything on her list and still had $20 remaining. After talking it over with her young collaborator, they decided that a pair of sandals and colorful jacket would bring the total just over the limit to $82, which was doable, since Mei had received permission to exceed the amount by up to $5.
Rachel and Tina both had similar experiences with their ‘shoppers’ and each came away with admiration for our younger generation. They were organized, well prepared, and considerate: not only did they buy things for themselves; they also purchased an item for their other siblings who were not chosen for the back-to-school bonanza.
As each child completed their shopping spree, the chaperones took them back to the store’s conference room where there were snacks and beverages waiting, donated also by Target. From there, parents could retrieve their kids and bags of goodies.
Mei recounted, “…it all went so well and orderly and was a big success. I felt so good that I offered to do the same Event next year..”!
Next year’s goal will be 100 students. Mahalo to Target, Salvation Army and the West Hawaii volunteer-chaperones in this huge philanthropic effort towards the betterment of education. And Mahalo to our Babes for participating! Next year we hope to have more of us available for this wonderful event.
Read the West Hawaii Today article for more information and photos: