Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

New Clothes and Big Smiles; Homeless Kids Get a Back-to-School Shopping Trip to Old Navy

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

New Clothes and Big Smiles; Homeless Kids Get a Back-to-School Shopping Trip to Old Navy

Article excerpt

Byline: Beth Reese Cravey

Kaylee Crews was excited when her family's Old Navy back-to-school shopping trip began Monday and she was still excited when they were headed to the checkout line.

"I want to wear my new Tom and Jerry shirt the first day," she said, fairly bouncing toward the front of the store.

Kaylee, 11, and her two brothers, Justin, 14, and Alex, 8, made the rounds of the Old Navy store at River City Marketplace on the Northside, shepherded by their mother, Rebecca Crews.

Like so many other Northeast Florida families, they were preparing for the new school year. But their trip started at the Sulzbacher Center for the homeless in downtown Jacksonville, where they have lived the past three weeks. They were among 40 Sulzbacher children and their parents ferried to Old Navy on a school bus, where they each received $50 Old Navy gift cards to spend on new clothing.

"It means a lot," said Rebecca Crews. "This is going to be a big help."

Sulzbacher's fourth annual back-to-school shopping trip was sponsored by Michaelson Realty Group, which provided the gift cards. An additional 40 gift cards will be given to children who have recently moved out of shelter and are enrolled in the Center's Aftercare Program.

Old Navy opened the store early just for the center's group and gave them 10 percent discounts. Store employees donated their time, according to Allison Vega, Sulzbacher spokeswoman.

"They're affordable but also a brand name," she said.

Tieshi Thompson picked out new clothes for her three children, Sa'nya, 7, Serena, 6, and Simone, 5. She has been at Sulzbacher for two months and was grateful for the shopping trip.

"It just shows that somebody somewhere cares about people who are disadvantaged and don't necessarily have everything they need for their children," she said. "It is just by the grace of God that I was able to get into this program. …

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