A group of children hugging each other as they smile for a photo


The Y believes ALL children should be prepared, confident and successful in school.


The Y makes strengthening our communities our cause. We strongly believe that children who have the necessities they need to succeed can focus on learning rather than worrying about having shoes to wear on the playground and crayons to color their assignments. By pairing a child with a caring adult volunteer ‘shopping buddy,’ children also learn that our community cares about them and wants them to succeed. YMCA Bright Beginnings makes for confident and prepared kids on the first day of school and contributing and engaged adults tomorrow. Since 2003 YMCA Bright Beginnings has helped children in need prepare to start the new school year ready to learn.

Here’s How It Works

Before school starts, the Y invites eligible children to meet at the Y on their assigned shopping date. Y staff and volunteers take them to a local store where they are paired with a shopping buddy. Together the child and shopping buddy shop for shoes, socks, underwear, pants, shirts and a warm sweater or jacket. They also share a meal and, if time allows, read a story, play a game or color together. Back packs filled with grade-appropriate school supplies are provided for each child. Shopping buddies escort the children back to the bus and say good-bye.

Make a Donation

There is no cost to the child’s family to participate. We count on the generosity of individuals, organizations and corporations and we are determined to send 1,000 children from the Peninsula Metropolitan YMCA service area shopping this August. But we need your help. All donations are greatly appreciated; sponsoring 10 children ($1,500) or even just 1 or 2 children at $150 each, makes a difference.


Becoming a Bright Beginnings Shopping Buddy requires no more than a ready smile, less than 3 hours of your time and the desire to help a child. Individuals and small groups are always welcome. Take an active role in nurturing the potential of your youth and volunteer this August!

Become a Backpack Buddy

Each child who shops with YMCA Bright Beginnings receives a backpack filled with grade-appropriate school supplies. Your business or organization can partner with a specific YMCA branch and fill backpacks according to our school systems’ supply lists for children in grades K-2 or 3-5. Backpacks are provided to children who participate on a shopping trip, children on our waiting list and other community children in deed.

Please contact Beth Miller at 804 843 3300 or elizabeth.miller@peninsulaymca.org to discuss how you can give back and support our youngest neighbors.

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Our mission is to put Christian principles into practice through programs that build healthy spirit, mind and body for all.