The South Hill Mall Target store and the Puyallup Salvation Army made a huge difference in the lives of 26 school-age students last Wednesday during Target Corporation’s annual Target School Sprees.
With an $81 gift card at their disposal, each of the 26 students entered the store with hopes to purchase much-needed back-to-school clothing and supplies.
For Teresa Scott — a mother of four — the opportunity for three of her children to benefit from the program was a blessing.
“It’s a big help,” Scott said. “This is the main part of the year that I need help financially. Every day is a challenge. I didn’t know it would be anything like this. I didn’t know we would go to an actual store.”
Jessilyn Tamonte, a 17-year-old attending Spanaway Lake High School, was ecstatic.
“This is so cool,” Tamonte said. “It’s really nice to get this opportunity.”
Since 2009, Target Corporation has sponsored the Target School Spree program. This year alone, close to 500 Target stores nationwide participated between July 15 and Aug. 15. The corporation distributes $1 million to The Salvation Army nationwide, which covers the $81 Target gift cards. By the end of 2015, Target aims to invest $1 billion for education, according to a company-issued press release.
Major Premek Kramerius, who leads the Puyallup branch of the Salvation Army, said this is the second time in the past three years the organization has participated. In 2011, the Puyallup branch benefited 25 students. This year, the branch benefited 26. Selected students, predominately from the Puyallup and Bethel school districts, were identified by the Puyallup branch as the highest need based on utilization of the Salvation Army’s family services programs, according to Kramerius.
“This makes the biggest difference,” Kramerius said. “It puts a child on the starting line. They are fortunate to have a good start for this school year.”
As a supplemental support, Kramerius said the Salvation Army will also provide school supplies to about 200 students in the Puyallup School District.
“School supplies are donated through the Fred Meyer School Supply Drive,” Kramerius said. “The drive is going currently and will finish by the end of this month.”
Donation boxes are located at the South Hill Fred Meyer, downtown Puyallup Fred Meyer and the Sumner and Bonney Lake Fred Meyers.
Reporter Andrew Fickes can be reached at 253-552-7001 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter, @herald_andrew. Jesse Major is a freelance reporter for the Herald.