At 7:45 a.m. on Saturday morning, while driving to the rear of the Kohl’s Department Store in Petaluma, a large crowd was gathered waiting for the doors to open. Upon checking out the group, it appears that parents and children, grandparents and babysitters were eagerly waiting for something special to happen inside the large store.
Upon entering the back door, a hair salon had been set up with five students receiving free haircuts and getting prepared for school. Volunteers, from several salons, did this with smiles and laughter to make the children feel at ease.
When a group of students and volunteers entered the store, it was a free for all. The children had ideas of grandeur as they all headed to the shoe department to look at the very expensive tennis shoes. The beaming volunteers would shake their heads and say, “but if you buy these shoes you won’t have any money left over for pants and shirts.” In return the smaller children would bargain with, “but I can wear my old pants, nobody will know they are old,” Some of the children were disappointed as most of the time this is the only season of the year where these children will have new clothes for school and this is where the 20/30 Club comes into focus.
The 20/30 Club holds one of the largest events each year when they do the Children’s Shopping Spree. Usually in August, just before school begins, the club sponsors underprivileged children to go back-to-school shopping at Kohl’s.
Members and volunteers will take the children to shop throughout the store before it opens to the public. Many times this is the first time these youngsters have owned a brand new pair of shoes or clothes that are not big sisters or big brothers old hand -me -downs. They are also given a backpack full of school supplies and a hot breakfast. This will allow the children to return to the classroom full of self-esteem, ready to learn.
Other recent school giveaways in the Rohnert Park-Cotati area were the Discovery Church, the Check Center and the Boys and Girls Clubs of Central California.