Board Support & Communications Specialist
(408) 635-2600, ext. 6031
More than 120 low-income students from throughout Milpitas Unified School District will kick off the school year on August 17 with a new wardrobe and back-to-school essentials thanks to the Kiwanis Club of Milpitas.
From 6:30 to 9 a.m. Sunday, August 6, approximately 150 volunteer chaperones paired up with a student who they helped shop at Kohl’s, before the store opened, during the annual Cares for Kids program. Each student had a sheet with information about his or her needs and what sizes they wear which guided the shopping by the volunteers. They included members of the Milpitas Police Department; Milpitas, Spring Valley, and Cal fire departments; Board Members (past and present); City Council members (past and present); MUSD teachers; Rotary members; 90 Milpitas and Independence high schools key clubbers; and several more community volunteers.
The event kicked off with a light breakfast to all those in attendance that morning. South Bay Kids provided musical entertainment for those parents and others waiting outside the store while the students shopped. Due to generous markdowns at the registers, shoppers were able to purchase $140 worth of clothing with the $100 Kohl’s gift cards Kiwanis supplied to each student, identified as in need by local principals.
Nancy Mendizabal, who coordinated the event alongside husband Michael Mendizabal (both Kiwanis members), said the club instructs volunteers to lead shopping efforts that focus on school uniforms.
“We try to get a kid three shirts and a couple of pants,” she said. “Almost every kid leaves with a pair of shoes.”
From there, volunteer chaperones work to make the most of the money for the shoppers by filling in the gaps with items including socks and underwear, and at least one “fun thing” such as a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles sweatshirt.
Nancy said the highlight of the event is watching how excited the children get about the items they receive. She recalls multiple years where she has witnessed children clutching to new clothes or shoes they could not otherwise afford saying, “I have never had new shoes of my own.”
To many, it may seem run-of-the-mill to receive clothes before the start of every school year. However, for those children, she added it means something to attend their first day of school with new, clean clothes that fit and shoes without holes, just like their peers. The students will also have backpacks, filled with school supplies by the Family Giving Tree, waiting for them when they return to school on the first day.
In addition to benefiting MUSD students, Kohl’s also awarded Kiwanis with more than $2,400 in “Kohl’s Cash” for the items that were purchased that day. The organization will donate that money to the Milpitas Food Pantry, which also houses a Clothes Closet, to further help those in need.
Milpitas Kiwanis had 17 members and their spouses volunteer at the event. The club would like to publicly thank Kohl's and their employees who volunteered to make the event happen in addition to Hobee's, Christy's Donuts, and Starbucks for donating breakfast items; Kathy Duncan and Linda Sebree for running the shopper check-in table; and Michelle Boyd and Camile Jung for bringing in volunteer chaperones.
Funding for the event comes from the MUSD/Kiwanis Crab Feed and Outback Steakhouse Dinners, which helped the organization raise more than $15,000. The 14th annual MUSD Crab Feed is scheduled for February 9, 2018 at the Milpitas Community Center.