Editor’s Note: The following article is written in the first person from the reporter’s perspective detailing her experience volunteering in the “Bright Beginnings” program.
Back to school shopping is a burden for many Yadkin County families in these difficult economic times.
For some families it’s impossible, and for those families the Yadkin Family YMCA and West Yadkin Elementary School teamed up to raise funds and make this a memorable back to school for more than 40 children.
The program is called “YMCA Bright Beginnings,” and 2012 marks its inaugural year in Yadkin County. Its purpose is to give elementary age children the essentials for starting a new school year and to bring the community together in the process.
As a child who always looked forward to back to school time and the excitement of shopping to start the new school year fresh, I understand how important this program is for these children.
On a tight budget myself, I opted to donate my time as I could not donate much money. I arrived at the YMCA early on August 4 eager to learn what the day would hold and to meet the child I would spend my day with.
All volunteers signed in and got to choose a name from either the boy or girl stack. Each sheet featured the name of the child we’d be shopping with, as well as their sizes in various clothing items, grade level and favorite colors. We were each issued a $50 Walmart gift card for our child and then we all piled on the bus to head to West Yadkin Elementary.
The kids seemed just as eager as us as we filed off the bus with our buddy’s name held up over our heads. My buddy comes snaking through the crowd and introduces herself. We go to grab her new backpack complete with all the supplies she’ll need for her new school year and then we head over for me to meet her mom.
After a short briefing on what she needed and strict orders to skip the haircut, we climbed back on the bus to start our shopping extravaganza. My buddy and I chit chatted along the way about her summer, her excitement for starting a new school year and what she wanted to look for while we shopped.
Our bus made its first stop at Walmart,and with only an hour to get our shopping done we set out with a very serious mission: get as many clothes, preferably in pink, as $50 will buy. Clothes shopping proved to be just as difficult for kids as it is for me; no two pants ever fit the same. We finally were able to settle on some bottoms that would last her more than a week and matching shirts to complete the look.
Once we were through the checkout line it was on the next task of shoes. The Yadkin Family YMCA arranged for each child to pick any pair of shoe they wanted from Shoe Show. My buddy and I headed straight for her size and probably appeared as a blur pulling down shoes from the rack, creating a pile of potentials in the floor.
I assisted her in trying on each shoe, and we discussed how each would complement her outfit while still lasting her throughout the year. We finally come to a decision on a pair of sparkly purple and pink Skechers Twinkle Toes with rhinestones on the toes that light up.
Since our shoe shopping experience was the end of our shopping journey and my buddy couldn’t get a haircut, I treated her to a quick nail polish change at the nail salon next door. She opted for a neon pink shade to go with her very pink wardrobe and sat patiently watching as the nail technician colored each little finger.
With a new wardrobe, new shoes and freshly painted nails we were sufficiently ready for school and sporting some very hungry stomachs. We finished a little ahead of schedule so we sidetracked to a park for a quick game.
Once the kids were good and tired, we headed out to Theo’s Italian Restaurant to partake in some salad and pizza. Volunteers and their buddies were treated to as much pizza as they could handle, and we all got the opportunity to get to know our kids a little better. I learned that my buddy was the oldest of three children; her two younger brothers were there as well.
Once we were all stuffed we headed back to the school. My buddy and I played tic-tac-toe during which she beat me almost every round. We pulled into the parking lot and my buddy spotted her mom instantly. She excitedly hopped off the bus telling her all about the clothes she bought and showing off her pretty pink nails.
An exhausted group of volunteers boarded the bus once more after all the kids were safely returned to their parents. As we all recounted our time with our buddies we all agreed that we couldn’t have thought of a better way to spend a Saturday morning than making a child’s day a little brighter.
Reach Lindsay Craven at 679-2341 or at email@example.com.