Each year, dozens of Lodi families struggle to afford the proper clothing and supplies their children need to begin a new academic school year.

An each year, the most well-known charitable organization in the world offers assistance to these families before school districts open their doors for the first day of class.

The Salvation Army later this month will treat as many as 100 families to a Back to School Shopping Spree for $100 worth of new clothes. In addition, the organization will provide each child with a backpack full of supplies such as writing utensils, notebooks and other tools classes might require.

The shopping spree will take place at the Walmart located at 1601 S. Lower Sacramento Road in Lodi on July 27.

“They’ve been very generous to us for the past several years,” Salvation Army Social Services Coordinator Claudia Hernandez said.

Hernandez said the shopping spree benefits children in grades 1-12 who are enrolled in the Lodi Unified School District. Families must show a proof of residency in order to qualify for the shopping spree.

Applications are available at the organization’s 525 W. Lockeford St. location, and are due by July 17.

Once selected, children will accompany a chaperone through Walmart to choose clothing for the upcoming school year. Parents will not be allowed inside with the children, Hernandez said.

“We have a lot of volunteers that come out for this event and help the children,” she said. “It’s a big outcome, and it goes along with our message of offering a hand up, not a handout.”

Hernandez said the Salvation Army receives applications from repeat families each year, but the organization strives to select new participants who haven’t had the opportunity to benefit from the shopping spree. If there are not many new families interested in the shopping spree, she said repeat applicants are selected by lottery.

“It’s a wonderful program,” Hernandez said. “I had one year when my kids and I were struggling before I started doing this, so I applied, and it really helped us out. This program just gives kids the confidence to go back to school and not worry about wearing the same clothes or using the same materials each year.”

Major Mark Thielenhaus said the organization has been helping children and their families prepare for school for at least 10 years.

“We just think it’s amazing to be able to provide kids with the ability to go back to school and prepare for the year ahead,” he said.

The Salvation Army is still accepting volunteers to help out with the event, and is also still accepting donations and sponsors for children. Anyone interested is encouraged to call Hernandez at 209-369-5896.

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