Miami Heat host back-to-school shopping spree at Target

MIAMI (WSVN) - Several lucky students were treated to a back-to-school shopping spree at a Target store in Miami, thanks in part to the Miami Heat.

The basketball team joined forces with Papa John’s and Pepsi to help families in need by giving the young participants the chance to pick up new school gear, Tuesday.

A spirited Burnie, the Heat’s mascot, brightened the young shoppers’ day as they selected items for their return to class.

“I’m getting tape, glue and markers,” said 7-year-old Mercedes Johnson, who is about to start first grade.

Former Heat star Glen Rice was there to help the students pick out new supplies.

“It’s a very important time. We’re in here trying to get the kids all the supplies they need to move forward in their education,” he said.

Thirty children from Chapman Partnership each received a $200 gift card to spend at Target.

“These are very special kids. They all live at Chapman Partnership. They’re all homeless,” said Miami-Dade Public Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho.

Students scored uniforms, notebooks, writing utensils, backpacks and more.

Burnie bounced from aisle to aisle while Miami Heat Dancers made sure the young shoppers were stocked up for the start of school.

Helping the Chapman Partnership is something that hits close to home for Carvalho.

“When I was 17 years old, I was homeless in this community. I know what it’s like to live and sleep on the street, and I know these kids need our assistance,” he said.

“There’s no amount of money that you can put on a kid’s enjoyment,” said Rice. “Being able to go out there and get what they need in supplies for school to better their education and see those pearly whites. That’s what it’s all about.”

It was a big cheer for more than two dozen students who now feel ready to take on the challenges of the upcoming school year.

“I get to shop and go to school and do all my work,” said Johnson.

After the day of shopping, the families were treated to a pizza party. The students will also receive free haircuts so they can look their best on their first day of school.

Classes for Miami-Dade students are set to begin on Monday.

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