Students with parents battling cancer go school shopping with Michelle’s Place

Sisters Aryanah McAfee, left, 15, and Audreyanah McAfee shop for new back-to-school school clothes at Kohl’s in Temecula hosted by Michelle’s Place Cancer Resource Center and funded by Stater Bros. Charities, Aug. 13. Families who have a parent fighting cancer registered with Michelle’s Place Cancer Resource Center for the shopping spree opportunity. Shane Gibson photo

Back to school shopping for children of all ages can be a chore – but for the 50 or so school-age children who went shopping at Michelle’s Place Cancer Resource Center’s “Too Cool for School” event Tuesday, Aug. 13 – it was a piece of cake.

That’s because all of the students who were beneficiaries of the event have a parent currently battling cancer and choosing between two different items of clothing is the least of their concerns. It takes a little bit of pressure off the parents as well, according to Michelle’s Place Executive Director Kim Gerrish.

“We realize that if they can’t afford food, transportation, their treatments, they certainly can’t afford backpacks and school supplies and back to school clothes for their kids,” Gerrish said. “We’ve been doing the backpack program for many years, but we thought wouldn’t it be so cool to be able to give them a new outfit? Because for so many kids, that’s such a big deal, right? To be able to have something new and a new pair of shoes on their first day of school. And I know that’s hard for parents to do.”

It is the second year that children have had the opportunity to spend a little money at Kohl’s to get ready for the school year, and the program is funded by at $10,000 grant by Stater Bros. Charities.

“We approached Stater Bros. and they totally agreed,” Gerrish said. “Depending on how many kids are in the financial assistance program determines how much we’re able to give them. Each has been given $150 to go shopping. We have just over 50 kids, and the program is here on that allows them to get whatever they want, shoes, clothes, accessories, for back to school.

“Kohl’s is a great partner. They don’t charge any sales tax because we’re nonprofit, and they let us use any of the coupons that are available is one way. And everybody loves it,” she said.

Helping the children, accompanied by a parent or guardian, make their selections were Michelle’s Place volunteers. The volunteers helped the students pick the right pieces of clothing for fit and helped them add up the total to make sure all the items were within their budget.

Jeff Pack can be reached by email at