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Apostolos shopping spree gets kids ready for school

Charity program gives 170 children new clothes
By: Megan Wood The Press Tribune
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As the rest of the city slept soundly in their beds this past weekend, some of Roseville’s youngest fashionistas got a head start on their back-to-school shopping. A line of more than 170 schoolchildren snaked around the Roseville Kohl’s before sunrise Saturday at the annual Tommy Apostolos fund kids shopping spree. “I couldn’t sleep last night I was so excited,” said participant Vanise Nunez, a first-grader at Sargeant Elementary School. The fund started in 1988 to honor longtime Roseville resident and Surewest employee, Tommy Apostolos, whose dying wish was to give back to local children said Apostolos’ granddaughter, Lilly Apostolos. “They started the year after my grandfather died with 10 children and we’ve grown every year since,” Apostolos said. “He would be speechless. He loved Roseville, loved this community.” In year’s past, the shopping spree was held at Mervyn’s until last year when the store closed its doors and Kohl’s stepped in to host the Christmastime event. “We haven’t been able to do a before school shopping spree in a while, but we got extra funding this year,” said Apostolos volunteer Ann Diamondstone. “In this economy I think it’s a real blessing.” Children were invited to participate based on need and were nominated by Roseville teachers while others were selected from KidsFirst a nonprofit organization that advocates the health and safety of children said Tommy Apostolos Shopping Spree organizer Bob Smith. Once inside the store, the pint-sized shoppers were paired with two volunteers to help spend the $150 they were given. “This is so much fun,” said Kohl’s employee Brigitte Rivera who said the 4 a.m. start time was not much different from her normal 5 a.m. shifts. “It’s great to see all these kids and how happy they are because of the community.” Tatyana Kuriker led her personal shoppers and first time volunteers, Lisa and Ivan MacNamara, first to the shoe department before heading over to pick out new jeans and shirts. Meanwhile, Tatyana’s brother, Jason, had his volunteers helping him choose new jeans and shorts. “It’s a great volunteer experience and I’ve been doing it for years,” Apostolos veteran volunteer Jackie DeMuth said. “It’s fun to do with the kids.” While DeMuth checked sizes and helped Jason shop, first time volunteer Debbie John manned the calculator and tallied up Jason’s spending. As shoppers, weighed down by new backpacks and back to school duds filtered out of Kohl’s, Jerry Lee Beauty College set up a makeshift salon for impromptu haircuts. Outside, Vanessa Bruce anxiously kept one eye on the front door of Kohl’s as she waited for her two daughters to emerge. “I don’t know how they were picked but when I found out I cried,” Bruce said. “I don’t like to ask for help but I’m very grateful.” Bruce said she gave her daughters, 10-year-old Rebekah Nunez and 6-year-old Vanise Nunez, some shopping advice. “I told them nothing too tight so they wouldn’t outgrow it so soon and to try to get things they could mix and match,” Bruce said. “They don’t get new clothes very often, it’s usually hand-me-downs so I’m excited for them.” Inside, Rebekah escaped to the junior’s department in search of new jeans, having only one pair that fit her at home, as well as a dress for special occasions. “I’m a firm believer in paying it forward,” Bruce said. “When I’m on my feet I’ll be the first in line to volunteer to help other kids the way they’ve helped mine.” Funds for the annual spree are raised at a benefit dinner dance held each year and from a variety of grants and donations.