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Buljan’s Adopt-a-Kid program helps underprivileged students

Kids go shopping with teachers for new clothing
By: Sena Christian, The Press Tribune
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During a shopping trip earlier this year, Buljan Middle School math teacher Judy Kevin went to check on a boy in the fitting room when she realized he’d been in there a long time.

“He was crying because he had never had anything new in his life,” Kevin said.

On that day, he was given money to shop for underwear, shoes, jeans, a jacket, shirts and other clothing items. This boy is one of 26 students to benefit from the school’s Adopt-a-Kid program, which started this year.

Each week, Kevin and a fellow teacher take two or three students, with their parents’ permission, to JC Penney for two hours of shopping. Each student gets up to $150 to spend. Recipients are selected based on financial need.

One girl said after her shopping trip that for the first time she was actually excited to attend school the next day — and show off her new outfit, Kevin said.

Teachers notice when a child wears pants two sizes too small, uses duct tape to keep her shoes in one piece or wears the same shirt over and over again, Kevin said. They submit names to the Roseville City School District office to see if a particular student comes from a family in need.

Buljan Middle School has nearly 1,200 students and 29 percent are socioeconomically disadvantaged, according to a demographics report by the state of California.

Twelve years ago, the school began participating in the Adopt-a-Family program with St. Vincent de Paul. Buljan students raised funds, purchased items on a family’s wish list, wrapped the gifts and delivered them by Christmas.

Previously, Buljan students benefitted from the Tommy Apostolos Fund, which has provided clothes, computers and backpacks to underprivileged children in Roseville for more than two decades. This effort culminates with an annual holiday shopping spree. In December 2011, 330 kids participated.

But the nonprofit organization only served kids up through the sixth grade last year. President Aldo Pineschi said his group has received a lot more requests over the past few years and fewer financial contributions.

“Many of our seventh and eighth graders would have qualified, so as a staff and as a school we decided to change our program to Adopt-a-Kid,” Kevin said.

Students, teachers and parents rally together to raise money, with 100 percent going to the program. Students host bake sales at lunch on an ongoing basis. Walmart has donated treats and JC Penney has provided discounts on clothes.

“It’s been overwhelming. People have completely stepped up and said, ‘How can I help?’” Kevin said.

Girl Scout and eighth grader Skylar Martin is raising $500 to pay for graduation dresses for five of her classmates.

“I want to give students needing financial aid some of the basic necessities, so they can feel better about going to school,” Skylar said. “It’s important that all kids feel good about going to school and fit in with everyone else.”

Sena Christian can be reached at senac@goldcountrymedia.com. Follow her on Twitter at SenaC_RsvPT.

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Want to help?
To contribute to Buljan Middle School’s Adopt-a-Kid program, donate gift cards or cash to the school. Make checks payable to the school, located at 100 Hallissy Drive in Roseville.