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Turlock mom's efforts prompt Save Mart to offer special needs shopping cart
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Hayven Smith of Oakdale gets strapped in for an inaugural spin in the new Carolines Cart at the Turlock Save Mart on Geer Road. - photo by Photo Contributed



Turlocker Carolina Alfaro used to run to the grocery store late at night once her husband got home from work. With two special needs children, the simple task of grocery shopping became a burden made easier only by using her sons’ wheelchairs as a makeshift shopping cart when necessary.

Now Alfaro and other local parents won’t have to sacrifice their grocery shopping experience or leave their children at home when they head to the store as the local Save Mart Supermarket on Geer Road now offers the first special needs shopping cart in the Central Valley.

“The shopping experience can be very normal for some people, but it always isn’t as easy for some of us,” explained Alfaro, the instrumental figure in bringing the unique carts to Turlock.

Characterized by a larger reclined chair in the front of the cart that allows parents to strap in their child comfortably, the special needs cart, known as a Caroline’s Cart, was created by parents of a special needs child in North Carolina. Drew Ann and David Long faced the same hurdles Alfaro did when shopping and created the cart named after their daughter to offer parents of children with special needs the opportunity to shop with their children in a stress free way.

With an extended bottom rack, the children are offered foot support which is important since special needs children can often have orthopedic issues said Alfaro. The cart also has a tall back for comfort and extended handles that allow parents to push the streamlined cart through the store like other shoppers.  The cart can also be locked in place should they need to grab something nearby without pushing the cart down the aisle.

“Having this cart is a big step for me to know we’re making progress in our special needs community,” said Alfaro at the ribbon cutting event to celebrate the new cart on Friday.

Caroline’s Cart is not only convenient but also allows special needs children the ability to participate in mainstream society with their family through the daily activity of grocery shopping – and moms like Alfaro no longer need to stuff groceries in the sides of their child’s wheelchair when shopping.

“I think this is a needed service for the families of special needs kids and it’s important to offer them something so they don’t have to have someone watch their children. Now the child can have the experience of shopping with mom and it’s easier on the parents as well,” said Store Manager Greg Wagerman.

There is also a Caroline’s Cart at the Save Mart in Modesto at the 3601 Pelandale Ave. location. Save Mart intends to include more Caroline’s Carts at other locations in the Valley and elsewhere in the future.