Kids line up for Childspree at Mervyn's

Second grader Ryan Heflon, of Indian Hills, said he wasn't too keen on going back to school, but at least he's got all the gear.

Loaded down with pants, shirts, shoes and a backpack, he was one of 65 elementary school-age children treated to balloons, breakfast at McDonald's and a $100 shopping spree at Mervyn's on Saturday morning.

"Every Mervyn's store in California, Nevada and Arizona participates in this annual event," said Carson City Kiwanian Ken Beaton.

This year, the Carson City Sheriff's Department got into the act, displaying two street bikes and Tahoe, a yellow lab used for drug sniffing. The bikes were seriously upstaged by the yellow Labrador according to Deputy Bill Richards, but he said this is still a lot of fun.

"This is something different for us because it's positive interaction," he said. "Our contacts are usually pretty negative."

Every child is paired up with an adult and supplied with one card entitling the bearer to $100 worth of school clothes. If the parents can't make it, the child is paired with another adult and the chaperones have as much fun as the kids, said Beaton.

"She's such a sweet kid. We had a real good time," said Mervyn's employee Samantha Smith after shopping with her student. "She likes pink."

Four-year-old Justine Herrera was at her side and soon opened her bag to proudly display a new corduroy jumper, pants, shirts and pink sweat suit, to name a few of the items she will start school with.

The program, called Childspree, is for economically disadvantaged school-age children.

"We're trying to give locally disadvantaged children a good start as the school year begins," said Mervyn's manager Shannon Wheeler. "We want all local children to go back to school and not have to worry about being picked on."

Amanda Mitchell, a captain in the Salvation Army, said their organization works in conjunction with schools and other agencies including the Washoe Tribe and the Boys & Girls Club to help identify those families.

She said several families were turned away from the event this year and she hopes to remedy that by doubling or tripling the number of kids next year.

The event was sponsored by Mervyn's, the Carson City Kiwanis, the Salvation Army and Harley Davidson Financial. Wheeler is always looking for more help for next year's event. Efforts will start next month and anyone interested can call her at Mervyn's, 887-8800.


To help with the annual Childspree shopping event contact Shannon Wheeler at Mervyn's at 887-8800.


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