HIGHLAND | Eight children gathered among the red carts and giant pencil cut-outs at the Target retail store in Highland, excited to join a bustle of shopping for school supplies.
If it weren't for The Salvation Army and Target, many of them wouldn't have the opportunity to gear up for school, organizers of the Friday event said.
For the fourth year, Target donated eight $81 gift cards to The Salvation Army, 4800 Harrison St., Gary.
The eight children are part of The Salvation Army's after-school program and summer camp. The Salvation Army education coordinator Kellie Branch said the nonprofit keeps a look out for children with the most need.
Branch said for many children in Salvation Army programs, school is already a challenge with bullying, problems at home and not getting adequate in-school help. She said the organization does what it can to ease the pressure.
"We want them to be prepared for that first day of school so they won't miss out on anything," Branch said. "It helps them be equipped in the mind, too."
Amari Kidd, 8, was able to get clothes for the school year.
"Being a single parent, it's hard," said mother, Michelle Kid. "You almost dread (back-to-school season). It's hard for a mother of four to ration out supplies, so this is actually a blessing."
Alisha Harrison, 8, said she doesn't go shopping often, so she was excited to pick what she wanted. Arielle Harrison, 9, was most excited about her new Hello Kitty backpack.
"I think it's great they give us the opportunity to have $81 to shop for school," Harrison said. "I want to start school to learn more stuff."