For many kids, back-to-school shopping at Target is a given. But for a group of nearly 100 in Houston last month, it was a special occasion when, on an early Saturday morning in August, more than 80 volunteers from the Junior League of Houston hit the aisles of Target's Central store to serve as personal shoppers for local children in foster care.
The annual event, called Childspree, benefits Child Advocates, Inc., the local organization the League has partnered with for almost 30 years in various capacities. Last month's shopping event saw League volunteers help select new back-to-school clothes with the children and their guardians, who also received backpacks bursting with supplies for the new school year.
Beyond equipping kids with classroom necessities, Childspree is also meant to provide a sense of confidence and pride for youth who may otherwise have gone without. The shopping spree, followed by an in-store breakfast party, went from 6–8 a.m. prior to Target Central's regular opening for the day. One 8-year-old participant eagerly searched for a diary with her personal shopper, Junior League member Elizabeth Smith: "Ms. Elizabeth is so, so, so, so, so, so FUN!" she reported.
League members' work with Child Advocates goes beyond shopping. Several serve as volunteer court-appointed special advocates for kids in need; others volunteer for special projects and events and with creating scrapbooks called Life Books, meant to act as both a therapeutic tool for kids in foster care and as mementos of their biological family.