It was no ordinary back-to-school shopping trip for 15 Greater Cleveland-area kids last week who shopped at the Avon Meijer store with Cleveland Indians players and their wives.
The special event was kept private so the kids could enjoy the time with the players, but the day proved unforgettable for the families who were treated to the shopping trip on Aug. 1.
The kids are all served by Ohio Guidestone, a nonprofit that improves the lives of families and individuals in communities throughout Ohio with services such as counseling, parenting classes, workforce skill development, foster care, and addiction recovery.
Each child was provided with a $100 gift card courtesy of Meijer and the Indians Wives Association, which organized the event.
Indians players and their wives helped the kids pick out back-to-school items, including everything from backpacks to notebooks to clothes and more.
Eight Indians couples in attendance included Kevin and Tayler Plawecki, Adam and Lauren Cimber, Mike and Caroline Freeman, Brad and Morgan Hand, Jason Kipnis and Sam Korb, Corey and Amanda Kluber, Dan and Tiffany Otero, and Nick and Ashley Wittgren.
“Any time we can give back to the community, it’s nice. I know the wives group does a lot,” said Indians pitcher Dan Otero. “Any time we can be there with them it is a privilege and honor for us as the players. Just to see the smiles on the kids faces when they picked out the new clothes and shoes makes it all worthwhile – little things like that. Hopefully, they have a great school year coming up.”
“We work with different organizations in the community all the time and it is so much fun,” said Tiffany Otero. “Ohio Guidestone is one of them. Today we came to go shopping for the first day of school and there’s nothing better. Your first day back you want to be confident, you want to be ready to learn, you want your supplies.”
“Back to school can be a tough time. You’re trying to balance your dollars to take care of your everyday needs but also get your kids ready for the new season,” said Ken Barclay of Meijers. “Hopefully, this helps a little bit to get the year started right.”
“It was just really cool, a really, really neat experience,” said Amanda Blevins, parent. “It really takes a burden off of me and the rest of the families here, I’m sure. Back to school is stressful, it’s expensive. It’s one less thing to have to be worried about. It was just a really real experience for me.”
“Most of these parents are in our recovery programming,” said Arian May, Ohio Guidestone spokesperson. “They’re in our individual therapy as well as our groups. This would be considered a way to bond with their families.”