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 Phil and Amy Mickelson Start Smart Helps Local Students Launch School Year, Helps Parents Cope With Difficult Economic Times

​The first buses arrived at the Murphy Canyon Wal-Mart at 5:30 a.m. Fifteen hundred students and more than five hours later, Phil and Amy Mickelson’s sixth annual “Start Smart” back-to-school shopping party was complete, each of the students having returned home with a new wardrobe and a backpack full of school supplies.

“This is always one of the very best days of the year for Amy and me,” said Mickelson, the world’s No. 2 golfer and 2010 Masters Champion. “To see the smiles on these kids’ faces, or the wonder in their eyes when they see the choices they have, is something that really sticks with us. It’s very gratifying when we hear so many of the stories teachers and parents tell us about the affect of Start Smart on their kids.”

With the economy struggling and unemployment high, the Mickelson’s financial support was appreciated more than ever. “”My daughter was so excited to have so many choices of clothes and shoes,” said Susan Butterfield, whose husband, a U.S. Marine, has been deployed in Afghanistan. “And the generosity of the Mickelson…all the smiles on the volunteers. Everyone was so happy and helpful. It means so much to so many families, both in the military and others who might be struggling financially and emotionally. You can’t know what it means to have such a distraction from the worries and hardship of deployment.”

This year’s participants, all of them first-through-fourth graders, came from seven school districts: San Diego Unified (400 students), Cajon Valley, Oceanside and Escondido (250 each), National (200), and Solana Beach and Coronado (75 each). They were selected by their principals on basis of financial need and effort in school. A total of 36 schools were represented.

The shopping spree was no hit-and-run affair. Each student chose four pairs of pants or shorts, skirts or dresses; six shirts, blouses or tops; two pair of shoes; a package of socks and a package of underwear; a jacket or sweatshirt, and a backpack. The pre-packaged school supplies included pencils, crayons, colored markers, scissors, glue, tape, erasers, pocket folders, a ruler, note pads and a spiral notebook. Altogether, clothes and school supplies, it’s approximately $200 per-student.

In addition, Mickelson will also pay for the bus transportation. A total of 57 buses were used to transports students, parents, teachers and administrators. And one of Mickelson golf sponsors, KPMG, joined in Start Smart for the first time, providing a free Dr. Seuss book for each student, with a special message inside from the Mickelsons.