A mother hoped that one day all retailers would provide a fair shopping experience for parents and carers of children with special needs.
This mother’s dream has come true. Drew Ann and David Long from Alabama have a special needs daughter named Caroline. When the couple realized their daughter would soon outgrow a regular shopping cart, Drew Ann came up with the idea for a special kind of shopping cart.
Now this idea has become reality. Caroline’s Trolley is a trolley specially designed to offer parents and caregivers the possibility of transporting their child to a store while shopping. Instead of trying to push a traditional grocery cart and maneuver a wheelchair simultaneously, parents and caregivers can push a cart with their child and their groceries.
Cassie Thomas, from Farmington, always had to plan her errands strategically because it was difficult to push her 15-year-old daughter in a wheelchair while pushing a cart full of groceries.
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But thanks to local generosity, Thomas can now take her daughter Bryar with her.
“Instead of strategically planning to go shopping before I pick her up for the day, now Bryar can come with me,” Thomas said. “It’s huge for our family because they love grocery shopping.”
Recently, the owners of Leadbelt Save A Lot asked Thomas to take his daughter to one of their stores. They wanted to take a picture of Bryar sitting in one of their brand new grocery carts. It was a Caroline wagon.
“The day they called us and asked if we could come over and take a picture, I told Bryar the new cart had arrived and she was so excited she couldn’t stop smiling,” said Bryar. Thomas.
She said they had to go back to the store that night so Bryar could buy candy to fill his candy drawer at home. On Sundays they did their weekly shopping and Bryar wanted his father to go so he could see the new cart.
“We are so grateful and appreciative of Clint and Matt along with Save A Lot and the LIFE Center for Independent Living for their willingness to provide the carts to our community,” she said. “Caroline’s basket at Save A Lot makes shopping a lot easier for us. This is a game changer for us!
Clint Price, co-owner of five local Leadbelt Save A Lot stores with Brad Juliette and Eddie Wakefield, said he and his wife Tonya are good friends with a couple who have a son with cerebral palsy. They mentioned the need for a Carolina cart in the area.
So local grocery store owners knew they had to add Caroline’s Cart to each of their stores. But the cost is around $1,000 each.
Then, Randy Windsor, director of marketing for the Life Center for Independent Living, contacted Price and asked to meet for lunch.
Windsor told Price that the LIFE Center wanted to do a fundraiser to buy Caroline’s wagons for the area.
Then this message was added to the Leadbelt Save A Lot Stores Facebook page: “We have some exciting news! As we continue our journey to help include people with special needs, we had the opportunity to work with the LIFE Center to purchase new Carolina carts for our Bonne Terre Save A Lot and Farmington Save A Lot locations. We will continue to partner with our friends at the LIFE Center for future fundraisers in hopes of purchasing carts for our other three locations.
Then, a follow-up message was posted on the LIFE Center’s Facebook page: “You guys, guess what! Our Caroline’s Cart outreach program has EXPLODED since last Wednesday when Save A Lot announced its partnership for this fantastic cause. We’ve reached over 20,000 people with this post alone, and we’re excited to give you all another exciting update!
The post continued, “Our goal is to raise funds to help a wide variety of businesses set them up.”
The LIFE Center has included a link for donations.
Then they received amazing news. The Mineral Area Down Syndrome Association donated $2,611 to the LIFE Center’s Caroline’s Cart project.
“Just watch how widely this spreads,” the post said.
Price said Windsor and other LIFE Center staff had “great ideas, a huge heart and a passion for special needs”.
Following the donations, a Caroline cart was purchased for each of the five Save A Lot locations in Bonne Terre, Farmington, Park Hills, Potosi and De Soto.
“We want to use the addition of these carts to encourage other businesses to purchase these carts for their stores as well, so parents can take their kids shopping safely and conveniently,” Price said.
Windsor said the whole story was “a kind of divine providence”. He said Thomas worked for the LIFE Center a few years ago before leaving to work for the Farmington Chamber of Commerce and now as a director of United Way of St. Francois County.
He said he once spoke to Thomas about how difficult it was for her to shop. She commented that most people don’t realize the difficulty for parents who have a child with special needs.
“At that point, I realized Caroline’s cart was a wonderful project,” Windsor said. “I told him we were going to commit to getting a cart in our area.”
Then everything fell into place between Save A Lot and the LIFE Center.
“I think it was a God thing,” Price said. “He knew these carts were needed for families in our area.”
He added that Caroline’s Carts additions to their stores “are not about Save A Lot. It’s way bigger than that. Every store should have one!
He continued, “We actually want it to be a challenge for other businesses in the area. We want to add a Carolina Cart to as many local businesses as possible. »
Pam Clifton is an editor for the Daily Journal