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Hanes Mall partners with The Salvation Army for Back-to-School Buddies program

WINSTON-SALEM — When officials with Hanes Mall attended The Salvation Army’s Hands and Hearts Fundraising Campaign virtual kick-off event in May, they learned the significant role The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club played in assisting local families in need throughout the 2019-2020 school year. The testimonies of the club’s students, parents, and employees inspired Hanes Mall officials to partner with The Salvation Army to find a way to help the club’s members get this school year started on a better foot. Back-to-School Buddies pairs donors with The Boys & Girls Club members to make sure they enjoy a self-selected back-to-school outfit.

Sarah Kotelnicki, marketing director for the shopping center, came up with a very creative way the mall and the community could help. The mall installed a giant faux sneaker, trimmed with envelopes labeled with the names of stores popular with kids and teens. Shoppers can simply pick up an envelope, write a back-to-school message on the enclosed card, drop in a gift card from one of the mall’s retailers, and insert the filled envelope into the slot on the sneaker.

“The pandemic caused a lot of school closures so The Boys & Girls Club after school program stepped up to extend their hours in order to provide kids with a safe, nurturing, and encouraging remote learning option,” explains Mayor Andrew Wiley, area commander of The Salvation Army of Greater Winston-Salem. “With the help of Hanes Mall, our hope is to bring awareness to the remarkable community resources The Salvation Army supports and to deliver local kids and teens in need the chance to shop for a first-day outfit that makes them feel confident for the in-person school year ahead.”

The enormous red sneaker will be located on level one near Dillard’s starting July 19 and will be there through Labor Day weekend. Hanes Mall hopes to deliver The Salvation Army with more than $3,000 in gift cards to Hanes Mall retailers for distribution to the 300 members of The Boys & Girls Club over the course of the program.

“I am a mother of two and know firsthand the mental connection between what we wear and our confidence level,” Kotelnicki says. “Hanes Mall has a long history of supporting the community, and it’s a privilege to help bring the excitement and tradition of back-to-school shopping to local kids in need. We hope the community will get behind this effort.”

For a list of Hanes Mall retailers participating in the Back-to-School Buddies program, go to ShopHanesMall.com/connect.