PHOENIX — The 30 kids from Homeward Bound had some difficult decisions to make Tuesday night as they roamed the aisles of a local Target.
As part of their Homeward Bound Shopping Spree, the D-backs gave each child $250 to spend at a Phoenix-area Target store.
Homeward Bound is a nonprofit organization in Phoenix that helps families going through homelessness get back on their feet and into a home.
“It gives these kids a little bit of an opportunity to have the power to make decisions,” said Debbie Castaldo, the D-backs’ vice president of corporate and community impact. “They take it very seriously. They are managing their money very carefully. You can see the pride as one of the kids said he had earned it like it was his job and he wanted to spend it carefully.”
Some of the kids did advance scouting for the trip, coming prepared with a shopping list. Each was assisted by a D-backs front-office volunteer, who helped talk the children through their decisions.
“Do they buy for themselves?” Castaldo said. “Do they buy for others? You can see for some of them the weight of that. Part of our volunteer’s job is to tell them it’s OK to buy that pair of shoes that they need. It’s OK to buy for yourself when you’ve earned it. It’s also OK to share it with others.”
The 30 kids in Tuesday’s shopping spree earned their place by getting good grades in school and writing essays.
“They are really good kids that have had some bad luck,” said Becky Jackson, president and executive director of Homeward Bound. “We’re thankful that there are organizations like the Diamondbacks who go out into the community and help lots of organizations, and Homeward Bound is one of the lucky ones.”
The youngsters’ desire to share their money with others in their family was clear.
One girl looked for a while at the jewelry counter trying to decide on what kind of necklace to get for her mom.
Another had her cart filled with mostly gifts for her three siblings. She also bought wrapping paper and quickly wrapped them after checking out so they wouldn’t be seen when she took them home. With her money, she had bought only one thing for herself.
“It’s so touching to see that,” Castaldo said. “They want so badly to share with others in their family.”
The D-backs’ front-office members not only helped with making decisions, they also showed there are jobs in sports that don’t include playing the game.
“Our kids just don’t usually get that role-modeling kind of attention,” Jackson said. “This is a great opportunity, not only to get to shop, but to get the mentoring from seeing someone who is not a player but is still a part of baseball.”