Nearly 1,500 first-through-fourth graders got the shopping experience of
their lives recently, courtesy of local pro golf star Phil Mickelson.
The fifth annual Start Smart back-to-school shopping spree at the Murphy
Canyon Wal-Mart store started before the sun was up, and by the time
it was over, 3,000 pairs of shoes, 9,000 shirts, blouses and, sweaters,
and 1,500 backpacks had left with the first-through-fourth grade student
“My wife Amy and I are real big on education and hope these kids, once
they have new outfits and school supplies, are excited about the new
school season,” Mickelson told the San Diego Union-Tribune. “The
thank-yous and appreciation after they pick out some cool new clothes
have been the most rewarding.”
The purpose of providing the new clothes and school supplies, Mickelson
said, is to help children get excited about going to school. And as
countless parents and school staff members told him at Wal-Mart, it
works. Children are anxious to go to school because of their new
clothes, parents report. And when students are happy to be at school,
they’re achievement climbs, according to teachers.
As he has for each of the five years of the program, Mickelson was at
the store well before the first school bus arrived at 5:30 a.m. After a
pep-talk/thank you to the Wal-Mart crew, Mickelson took a spot at the
front door to greet students.
The first 200 children to arrive were from San Diego Unified School
District, followed by 300 students from Poway Unified at 6:00, 350
students from Cardiff, Encinitas, San Pasqual and Vallecitos at 6:45,
300 from Alpine and Ramona at 7:45, and finally, 350 from Mountain
Empire, Valley Center, Spencer Valley, and Warner Springs at 8:30.
Students were selected by their school on the basis of need and their
outstanding behavior and/or achievement. This year’s participants
brought the five-year total to 6,700 students from 32 school districts
and 135 schools. Mickelson’s total contribution now exceeds $1.3
million, not including the cost of busing every participant, with at
least one parent, to the event each year.
For more information on Start Smart, contact the Communications office at the County Office of Education, (858) 292-3719.