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United Way's Back to School "In Style" Shopping Spree
by Eloise Montemayor .. Community Relations/Public Sector Associate
published September 2017

Target employees at the Back to School "In Style" Shopping Spree from left to right: Ismael Resendez; Alice De La Garza; Dania Perez; Janessa Rodriguez; and intern Jordan Gutierrez.
In August, United Way held its annual Back to School "In Style" Shopping Spree at Target in Mission for one hundred and twenty Junior High students selected by counselors from various districts. Each student received $150 worth of school clothing and personal hygiene items. Additionally, Target donated backpacks filled with school supplies.

This annual event is made possible for students in need through the contributions from United Way's generous supporters. United Way awards the same opportunity to eighteen school districts in Hidalgo and Starr counties that support United Way's programs. Then United Way works with these districts on a rotating basis to meet their students' needs. This year, the following school districts participated in the shopping spree: McAllen I.S.D., Mercedes I.S.D., Mission C.I.S.D., Monte Alto I.S.D., Rio Grande City C.I.S.D., Roma I.S.D., Sharyland I.S.D., South Texas I.S.D., and Valley View I.S.D.

"I see [the shopping spree] as a wonderful opportunity," said Lorena Anzaldua, McAllen I.S.D Special Services. "Some children don't have any new clothing to start the new year. That's what kids look forward to. They want something new to wear. But they don't get anything because there's certain things that the family has to pay for: light, gas, food, rent. So, this (shopping spree) is going to make a huge impact on the children, so they can at least start at the same level with everybody else. It helps that child's self image, their self esteem."

Target Store Manager Dania Perez and HR Manager Alice De La Garza, along with the rest of the Target team, were instrumental in helping to make the event a huge success. United Way's partnership with Target demonstrates the organizations' ongoing work to develop stronger and self-sufficient families in our area.

Furthermore, United Way company supporters from around the community served as "Shopping Buddies" to assist the students with their purchases. These Shopping Buddies were volunteers from the following companies:

City of McAllen, Elsa State Bank, Fed EX, Frost Bank, GE Aviation, H-E-B, IBC, Infinity Insurance, Inter National Bank, Magic Valley Electric Co-op, Navy Army Community Credit Union, Plains Capital Bank, Rio Grande City C.I.S.D. and Rio Grande City Police Department, Roma I.S.D., Security Service Federal Credit Union, Shepard Walton King Insurance Group, Starr County, Target, Texas Regional Bank, U.S.D.A.-ARS, U.S. Border Patrol, and Wells Fargo Bank.

Student volunteers from Advanced Barber College in Weslaco, TX also contributed to the success of the event by providing free haircuts for participants. We thank all supporters and volunteers for their time and donations. "There aren't enough words to express our gratitude," said Lorena Anzaldua. "These families are very appreciative for any help that is provided to them. We thank all of the people that donate, all of the people who contribute to this program because it does make a difference. Thank You!"