With the COVID-19 pandemic dramatically shifting operations for the West Valley Mavericks Foundation this year, the organization still found a way to give back and serve those in need.
On Saturday, Sept. 19, 50 children from Mercy House Community Center in Avondale's Cashion area pulled into the Kohl’s parking lot in Avondale, eager to see what the day entailed.
With social distancing and mask guidelines strictly enforced, the kids were greeted with cheers and excitement from Mavericks and Mustangs members, volunteers and Kohl’s employees awaiting their arrival. The West Valley Mavericks Foundation Childspree 2020 was about to begin.
Community partners Dunkin Donuts in Estrella & Chick-Fil-A provided breakfast, which allowed the children to begin their day on a full stomach and have plenty of energy to shop.
With full bellies and a little ice breaker conversation, each child was paired up with a shopping buddy awaiting their turn to enter Kohl’s for their personal shopping spree.
“This truly is one of the most impactful hands-on events that we have. Having Mavericks and Mustangs not only give back financially to the community members in need, they also have the opportunity to give back personally with support and encouragement as they spend time with these kids,” Mavericks President Justin James said in a prepared statement.
Thanks to sponsors and foundation supporters, each child had a predetermined minimum amount to spend, with any overages covered by the Mavericks and Mustangs partnered with the child.
While shopping and discussing how they were doing in school, the conversations revealed how difficult the COVID-19 pandemic has been for some of the students, who don’t have access to computers or WiFi, and found themselves struggling to keep up with their education. Determined, they still found ways to attend virtual classes, from waiting in lines at the public library to sitting in a McDonald’s parking lot using WiFi on their phones because they don’t have unlimited data plans.
At the conclusion of Childspree 2020, the foundation also donated 10 laptops to Mercy House to assist in the advancement of education and online learning.
“Childspree is the main event that sparked my interest in the West Valley Mavericks,” event Chairman Matt Cormier said in a prepared statement. “Seeing firsthand how many children in our community are in need, Netanya and I realized this was something we have to be a part of and help in any way we can. It’s a terrific event for anyone to be involved with; three years later to chair this event is truly an honor.” As the children smiled ear to ear (some with tears of joy) with bags of desperately needed items, one more bag awaited them upon exit.
As they approached the door, Mustangs handed each child a brand new backpack filled with everyday necessities like body wash, shampoo, conditioner, school supplies, toothbrush, toothpaste, hair essentials, mouthwash, razors, shaving cream, deodorant, mirrors, personal bags and more.
Many of the children said the favorite item in their backpack was the hand-written note of encouragement written specifically for them.