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Ravell Call, Deseret News
Amanda Chidester, at back left, reacts with her daughters Baylee Chidester, left, Stephanee Chidester, back right, and Cortnee Chidester, right, as they look through new clothing and school supplies they receive at the Road Home Shelter in Salt Lake City, Thursday, Aug. 18, 2011.

SALT LAKE CITY — More than 80 children from homeless families are ready to start school, thanks to the Road Home's Apple Tree program.

For the past four weeks, The Road Home has been collecting new shirts, pants, shoes, backpacks and school supplies for children whose families have recently moved into the shelter.

On Thursday, the children received those gifts, along with free haircuts from Sanctuary Day Spa. Some of children even got their nails done.

Katrina Sturgeon called the program a "stress reliever."

If not for the donations to The Road Home, Sturgeon said her 5-year-old daughter would be going to kindergarten in old clothes and shoes. She feared her daughter would be looked at as "odd or unusual."

"I didn't have the money to do this," Sturgeon said. "Now she'll be just like every other kid going to school. She'll have new clothes and new shoes, just like everyone else. She won't be any different."

Patrons at local retailers donated thousands of items to The Road Home. Children living at the shelter attend schools in the Salt Lake City School District.

The Road Home is a nonprofit social service agency that works to help people step out of homelessness and back into the community through emergency services, personalized case management and collaboration with additional resources. The shelter is located at 210 S. Rio Grande.

E-mail: jpage@desnews.com