ST. LOUIS, MO. (KTVI) - Amid the controversy over busing and swapping school districts in St. Louis, comes a back to school story where the children truly come first: about 1200 children in need, getting a back school shopping spree.
Malyzja Green, 5, kindergarten-bound 5, will make you smile and warm your heart.
She's got quite the shopping list.
She`d never had a day like Sunday, stuffing her backpack with whatever she wanted
The National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW) turned the Central Reform Congregation into the 'Back 2 School Store': a virtual Target or Kohls, with about kids in need getting everything they need to be ready for school.
'I got an eraser, glue, and some pencils, some pencils, some crayons, some markers, some books,' Green said, smiling.
'Everything`s brand new. When these kids come to shop, they get the VIP treatment,' said Amy Fenster-Brown of the NCJW. 'A child is matched with a personal shopper. They don`t shop with a parent or guardian. They get to pick everything themselves.'
'[Back to school] is a struggle. It`s a very hard struggle,' said Malyzja`s grandmother, Lanna Green. ‘I just thank God for the people to think about us, doing this to help us out.'
Her church pastor referred her for placement in the program, one of 35 area agencies and churches that help identify the children shoppers.
When you get to go shopping at the Back 2 School Store, you get to go shopping for more than new rulers and a backpack. You get an entire new outfit...everything ... new shoes, new socks, even a brand new winter coat.
'Umm, I want to get high heels! ‘said Malyzja, drawing big laughs, pondering her shoe choice.
'They`re not here for gym shoes. They`re here to shop, honey!' laughed Fenster-Brown.
Actually they were there for gym shoes but who could blame Malyzja for her shining eyes getting so big at the Back 2 School Store.
Speaking of which the kids also got free eye exams and free glasses if needed.
Volunteer, Lisi Furman, was back for a 6th straight year after moving to Atlanta.
She said she`d come to know long ago, that just 1 day like Sunday could change little lives in a lasting way.
'I can tell you there are very few days that are as important as going back to school; being able to start with confidence, feel good about yourself; have a nice new outfit, a brand new backpack!' she said.
'I look like a star, because I love to go shopping,' beamed Malyzja, a darling girl, a true shining star.
The store is a "year-round" effort, with corporate and individual sponsors proving the funding, roughly $180-dollars per child.
There are smaller 'in-school, closet' versions of the store at 8 area schools through the school year.