The first day of school has become something of a fashion show. Most kids have picked out the perfect new outfit and waited weeks to wear it. They will lay it out perfectly the night before.
As frivolous as it might seem to some, it really is important to kids. Jeff Grandy, program manager for Child Focus, knows this.
"We'd all go back-to-school shopping together," Grandy said. "We'd get our outfits and make a day of it. It would just be a family outing."
He experienced it and wants foster kids to experience it, too.
Child Focus, 4310 S. Cameron St., Suite 12, plans to give 80 foster siblings a back-to-school shopping spree Saturday. Child Focus is a nonprofit organization that hosts events for separated brothers and sisters in foster care.
Child Focus is also accepting donations through Thursday to help fill backpacks that will be given to each student. Items needed include: ruled paper, pencils, pens, rulers, glue sticks, calculators, scissors, folders and the backpacks themselves.
Donations can be made at the Child Focus office or online at firstgiving.com/childfocus. For more information, call 436-1624 or visit childfocusnv.org.
Child Focus started in 2009 with seven sibling events. Last year it hosted nearly 40.
"The common theme of all the events is to re-create normalcy for the kids," Grandy said. "They're separated for a variety of reasons. We reunify them for a normal activity that some of their friends get to experience."
Kids will arrive by bus at Walmart, 3041 N. Rainbow Blvd., and have family portraits taken. They are free to shop for 90 minutes, accompanied by a volunteer. Each student has a $100 clothing budget. Walmart will allow them to use a part of its back storage area for pizza and games before the kids have to return home.
Ana, a student at Southeast Career and Technical Academy, 5710 Mountain Vista St., whose last name was withheld at the request of Child Focus, was separated from her sister, Carla, five years ago. Ana, 16, lives in Henderson and her 17-year-old sister is in North Las Vegas.
Time and distance have strained their relationship.
"I feel weird because back when we were together, me and my sister would tell each other everything," Ana said. "We did everything together. Now she feels like a stranger."
The two are able to see each other every one or two months at Child Focus events. In 2011, Child Focus served 151 kids with an average of 98 visitation hours.
Ana is looking forward to Saturday. She wants her sister's opinion when it comes to fashion.
"It feels like I'm back home when we're together," she said. "... It's just us. We have time to ourselves, and I really like that."
Contact View education reporter Jeff Mosier at firstname.lastname@example.org or 224-5524.