Thirty-eight Queen Creek first- through sixth-grade students carried mesh, black shopping bags Wednesday and searched the racks for new back-to-school clothes.
One little boy said it was like trick-or-treating as he filled his bag with his favorite things at the J.C. Penney store at Superstition Springs Mall in Mesa.
The students were treated to a back-to-school shopping spree thanks to a $2,000 donation from the Queen Creek Kiwanis Club and $2,000 from the Desert Proving Grounds GM Women's Club.
Gracea Hetzel, a first-grader at Jack Barnes Elementary School, and her sister, Hailea Hetzel, a Jack Barnes fourth-grader, chose mainly pink and turquoise clothes, including pink Converse shoes and jeans with peace signs, stars and sparkles.
"We had fun because we got new stuff," said Hailea, 9. "I liked picking out my shoes."
Each child received two pairs of pants, two shirts, underwear, socks and a pair of shoes, worth about $100 each.
J.C. Penney gave the group half-off on shoes and 20 percent off on clothes, and since the trip was organized through the nonprofit Queen Creek Family Resource Center, the purchases were also tax exempt.
The students were chosen based on need and recommendations from their school nurse and teachers, said Maria Silva, director of the Family Resource Center, which is on the campus of Queen Creek Middle School.
It's the 13th year Silva has organized the shopping trip, and each year the GM Women's Club has donated money.
"I saw the need with the kids going to school with big shoes or worn-out shoes," said Silva, who is also a member of the Queen Creek Kiwanis Club.
Members of the donating clubs, along with employees from the Queen Creek Unified School District and J.C. Penney, walked around with groups of students to help them find the right sizes.
Pamela McNally, a GM Women's Club member, was helping the students shop for their free clothes for the sixth year. The club, which disbanded once the Proving Grounds closed last year, had donated money for the last time.
"It's just really rewarding," said McNally, whose husband, Thomas, and 5-year-old son, Patrick, also helped. "They get pants and shoes that actually fit, and they get a lot with the discount."
Because many of the students wear hand-me-downs, finding the right size was a challenge.
"They never know their size," McNally said. "It's a little stressful, what can I say?"
Coy Maynard, a Jack Barnes first-grader, proudly showed off his new black Vans shoes with an eagle on the heel, new SpongeBob SquarePants underwear, a red shirt with a skull, and an Arizona State University jersey.
"I liked that we got to go shopping because we get to buy stuff," said Coy, 6, who wore a stained, white shirt. "I like my new shoes the best."
Queen Creek Kiwanis Club member Karl Schnaidt and his mom, Roxy Wallenda, took five boys around the store.
"It's a lot of fun," said Schnaidt, of Queen Creek. "My passion is to help other people. That's why I'm here. And I love kids."
The students also received pencil boxes filled with stickers, crayons, markers, pens and a ruler.
After their new clothes were rung up, the students were treated to cookies, juice and gummy treats in the store's break room.
The students also had lunch at McDonald's before they drove back to Queen Creek.
Jalonie Faison, a sixth-grader from Queen Creek Middle School, said "it's cool" he got new clothes. He said his favorite part was getting out of school, although he admitted he liked his new silver Nikes, which he was already wearing.