Bright Beginnings: Jerry Long Family YMCA, volunteers take 60 kids shopping for back-to-school clothes

Published 12:10 am Thursday, August 18, 2022

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A steady stream of purple T-shirts and smiling faces walked off the YMCA buses last Tuesday morning at the Target on Hanes Mall Boulevard.
There were 60 kids and an adult volunteer paired with each one on a mission to buy new clothes and shoes for school as part of the Bright Beginnings program through the Jerry Long Family YMCA.
Once the kids finished with their shopping at Target, they were ushered to their next stop at Shoe Carnival to purchase a new pair of shoes for the upcoming school year.
“From all the faces I saw at the branch and then when we went shopping, it looked like everyone was having a great time,” said Adam Cardwell, the associate executive director of the Jerry Long Family YMCA, who organized this year’s event for the branch. “This is a great example of community collaboration and being able to make a difference while following our YMCA mission.”
According to the YMCA website, at least 1 in 6 children in the United States live in poverty.
“We know that it’s difficult for a lot of the families that we serve to afford basic supplies for school, including clothing,” Cardwell said. “We’re happy to provide Bright Beginnings for these families so that these kids can start the school year off on a positive note.”
The Bright Beginnings initiative is fully funded through the YMCA’s Annual Impact Fund.
The YMCA works with local schools to help identify kids and families who may be in need of extra assistance.
“Most of the kids we are supporting this year are from Kimmel Farm Elementary School and we have several from our before and after school childcare and summer camp programs,” Cardwell said.
Participants and volunteers for Bright Beginnings arrived at the Jerry Long YMCA last Tuesday and were greeted with breakfast supplied by Krispy Kreme, Dunkin Donuts, Chick-Fil-A and Lowes Foods.
In addition to the new clothes and shoes purchased at the stores, each kid also received a new bookbag, school supplies and socks before they were picked up by their parents.
“We had so much great support this year from the Clemmons community, from restaurants providing breakfast for everyone, to several area churches, one of the branches of the military and the Rotary Club providing volunteers to take the kids shopping,” Cardwell said. “Rescue House and Reynolda Church played such a vital role in helping us with this year’s event in not only providing us volunteers, but also by donating school supplies and money to support this. We are very fortunate and very thankful to have all this awesome support for Bright Beginnings.”