The West Valley Mavericks Foundation Childspree returned to Avondale recently to give more than 150 children from Homeless Youth Connection, Mercy House and other organizations the chance to be kids.
Mavericks volunteers and those from other Kohl’s stores in the Valley greeted the kids with introductions and breakfast provided by Chick-fil-A and Starbucks. After a little ice-breaker conversation, the children were paired with shopping partners.
Thanks to the support of sponsor SRP, each child had a minimum of $125 to spend inside Kohl’s. All overage was covered by Mavericks. The kids also received “support bags” filled with basic necessities.
“This year was special because, for the first time, we had dignitaries and community leaders show up because they wanted to see personally the impact that Childspree has on the community,” said Chris Prenovost of the West Valley Mavericks and the 2019 Childspree lead.
This year, the West Valley Mavericks Foundation launched another way to help this underprivileged group.
“We had a family reach out directly to us in need and quickly realized that only one of their four family members were able to attend Childspree,” said John Weber, West Valley Mavericks Community Foundation president
“Knowing their heartbreaking story, we were able to take care of their needs and when we informed the sibling, their tears of joy became pretty impactful.”
The first West Valley Mavericks president, Patrick Clooney, has been affected by the event since it began.
“I was able to spend quality time with one of these kids and then when we were done, he went off to a corner and wrote me a letter directly from the heart,” Clooney said.
“I will always keep that letter and look at it every day.”
Homeless Youth Connection and Mercy House officials said they feel honored to be Childspree’s beneficiaries.
“This is my first Childspree and the smiles tell it all,” said Dana Bailey of HYC. “Seeing the kids shopping, interacting and connecting with volunteers will carry on with them for a long time. My heart moment that caught my eye was when a little girl dug through her bag and pulled out a little red and white dress to show everyone.”
Mercy House’s Rosie Stoffel described her clients as from low-income, high-risk communities. Most of them have never shopped at a department store before.
“So coming here, in itself, is very exciting for them,” Stoffel added. “There was a very moving moment when one of the students was told they could have anything and chose to purchase a pillow. That’s the beauty of Kohl’s is it is not just about school clothes. The store provides the opportunity to fill whatever needs they have because some of our kids are sleeping on floors.”
The West Valley Mavericks host many special events to raise the money needed to give back.
All net proceeds from the following events are returned to the West Valley: The RoundUp Food Truck & Music Festival at Goodyear Ballpark (Sept. 28), NCAA Patriot All-America Golf Tournament at the Wigwam Golf Resort (Dec. 29 to Dec. 31), The Shindig at Goodyear Airport (Spring), and The Maverick Golf Tournament at the Wigwam Golf Resort (April 24).
Since inception, the West Valley Mavericks Foundation has donated over $675,000 to more than 71 different charities. This year, they have a goal of surpassing the $1 million mark with the community’s support. Info: westvalleymavericksfoundation.org.