Neftali Ortiz knew exactly what he wanted to buy at Kohl’s in Southlake.
The 17-year-old Fossil Ridge High School student filled his bag with a pair of jeans, socks, joggers and a sweatshirt totaling $100 worth of free clothing.
“That’s what’s up,” he said. “My paycheck is saved.”
Ortiz and his family joined almost 1,000 children at the annual Around the Block event on the evening of Nov. 18. Kids Matter International and its partners, including Boston’s Restaurant and Sports Bar, give children vouchers for $100 to buy clothing from the store. Other partners also donated meals, shoes, lap desk and bags.
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Ortiz said he works to help his family pay bills, including rent.
School counselors for local districts and campuses helped identify children in need for the eighth annual event.
Kimberly Cordero and her three children were first in a line that wrapped around the store. The three GCISD students were looking for winter clothes and the girls were not shy about trying to find some in-style leggings.
11-year-old Erin said she was grateful to be able to buy new clothes.
“We know that they care about people who don’t have that much money,” she said.
This is the second year the family has been able to buy clothes with help from the organization.
“It means a lot to us,” Kimberly Cordero said. “It’s a big help.”
Shoppers are paired with volunteers who help find items and tabulate the costs to make sure they’re within the budget. Overall the event uses the help of about 500 volunteers.
Joe King, Kids Matter International CEO and president, said this event is a great way to kick off the holiday season every year.
“We’ll never run out of children that are in need,” King said.
Michael Kiselak, KMI Board of Directors vice chair, has been with the event since its origin and said there’s one moment he always looks forward to.
“The look on their faces when they go in, then the look when they come out is a huge change,” Kiselak said.