VILLA PARK – On Wednesday, Miley Ortiz and her younger brother Alexis Ortiz visited the Target store in Villa Park with their mother, Maria Martinez, to get stocked up with school supplies for the coming year.
The children joined 10 others from around the community to participate in the Salvation Army Oakbrook Terrace Corps’s Target School Spree, a special program where each child receives a Target gift card and is assisted with shopping by a Salvation Army volunteer.
The school supply program is available for local families who have had challenges over the past year and need a little extra support, said Jackie Mead, social services coordinator for the Salvation Army Oakbrook Terrace Corps. The children at the Villa Park Target event were between 5 and 16 years old.
Miley and Alexis did their shopping with Marylou Bonesteel of Villa Park who said she’s volunteered with the organization for most of her life. Miley did her shopping first. The 9-year old will be in fourth grade at Westview Elementary School in Wood Dale, where she lives with her mom and brother.
“We want to get the best bargain so we can have extra money to spend on other things,” said Bonesteel as the pair browsed for pencils, folders, glue sticks and spiral notebooks.
As they shopped, Bonesteel asked Miley to compare prices on similar items and helped her decide which was the best value. Most of the things in their shopping cart were standard back-to-school supplies, but Miley also got to pick out a new backpack with Monster High characters and a pair of shoes with pink laces for gym class.
Although she doesn’t yet know who her new teacher will be, Miley said she’s looking forward to getting back to school where her favorite subject is writing. And, she’s excited to see all of her friends.
“I’m wondering if it’s the same people in my class,” she said.
Alexis goes to a different school than his sister. He celebrated his eighth birthday on Monday and will be in second grade at Spring Hills Elementary School in Roselle this year.
Last February, he was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome and was moved to a different school with the proper services to help him. Since being diagnosed and enrolled at the new school, Martinez said she’s seen her son thrive.
Like his sister, he’s looking forward to going back to school in the fall, where he enjoys art, music and homework.
In September, Miley, Alexis and Martinez will celebrate their anniversary of being involved in the Salvation Army Corps, something that Martinez said has been a blessing for her family
She said the organization has been a place where her family found new friends and a strong support network. In the past year, Bonesteel has become a grandma figure for her children.
“It’s like a big family,” she said.