FAIRFIELD — With pigtails bobbing, Angelina, 6, who is going into first grade this year, grabs a armful of socks and drops them into the cart. She is a bit shy, but is happy to be with her volunteer, Mary Beutner, who is helping her pick out footwear.
“She is excited about getting pants and shoes,” Beutner said.
The 100 children who came to Target on Saturday morning barely contained their excitement about the second annual Salvation Army Back to School Shopping Spree.
Originally, the number of participating students was 75, but with a generous donation from E40, a rapper with local ties, that number went up to a 100 children.
“With the help of E40, Jelly Belly and Target, this day was made possible,” said Capt. Jonathan Harvey of the Kroc Center Salvation Army.
“Each child gets a $100 gift card. In addition, they get a backpack with a notebook, pencil, eraser, color pencils and scissors,” Harvey said.
The children were placed with one volunteer while their parents waited outside. The volunteers came from the local Rotary clubs, businesses and Salvation Army helpers.
“Last year, we had only 50 kids, but this year it has gone up. That is wonderful,” Harvey said.
The surprise of the day was a visit from E40, who came out to help the children shop. He is working on four new albums titled “Sharp on All Four Corners.” Two will be released in November. The children couldn’t believe their eyes when they saw him. Many asked, “Are you really E40?”
“I don’t want to say how much I donated. Let’s just put it at a generous four digits,” E40 said.
He remembers with fondness his 501 Levi’s and Converse shoes back in his school days.
“My favorite subject was probably English,” he said.
The Salvation Army wanted to make sure the children got at least some pants, shirts and shoes for the coming school year.
“We want them to be fiscally responsible, so if they find a pair of shoes for $75, that won’t leave them much for anything else,” Harvey said.
Volunteers were encouraged to keep the shopping on budget and not go over, even if it was tempting.
“We want this to be fair so everyone goes away with about the same amount,” Harvey said.
Volunteer Rosa Cortes was paired with Juliana, 7, who is going into the second grade this year. She heard about the shopping spree from her sister who works at the Kroc Center.
“This is a great thing for the kids. I just wanted to come out and give back to the community,” Cortes said.
Reach Susan Hiland at 427-6981 or firstname.lastname@example.org.