‘Caroline carts’ let special needs kids get around stores

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Devin Perez/Columbia Basin Herald Amarisa Castro (left) and her father Amador take the special needs Caroline cart Monday inside the local Moses Lake Safeway. The store recently ordered the carts after receiving a lot of feedback from caregivers of special needs children.

MOSES LAKE — Safeway in Moses Lake has added two new shopping carts to its fleet to help families with special needs children make their shopping experience easier.

The carts are called ‘Caroline carts’ and are named after a girl named Caroline. Caroline’s mother Drew Ann Long came up with the idea of a shopping cart solely for special needs children after noticing it was difficult to move Caroline’s wheelchair and a shopping cart, Long told Southern Living.

Lisa Chandler Castro knew about the Caroline carts and stopped shopping at Safeway because her daughter Amarisa, 6, has a tough time walking through the grocery store.

“I went in and talked with a manager, and they didn’t respond very well. I kept going in, three times, and finally spoke with one of the new managers. I believe he was new. His name was Ed Wilson and I told him about it. He asked me to bring in a brochure so I took a brochure into them about it,” Castro told the Columbia Basin Herald.

One week later, Wilson notified Castro that he had placed an order of two Caroline carts for the Moses Lake Safeway, and within two weeks, the shopping carts arrived at the store.

“The carts are used for kids that are disabled. You can lift up the handles and open so your child can be set into it or step up onto it and get into the cart so that they have access. (Your) larger children that are disabled can get into them, it is just easier to transfer them into the cart,” Castro said.

Although Safeway added two Caroline carts, Lisa said more stores need to have Caroline carts in Moses Lake.

“My goal is to start going to each of the grocery stores and asking them to add Caroline carts to their store for families with special needs children,” Castro said. “It is so much easier to have these carts. Amarisa is heavy enough to where I can’t lift her into the cart anymore and she doesn’t fit into the tops of the carts anymore so now we open the cart up and she can climb into it herself and get situated. It’s a lot easier and I will now shop at Safeway because they are available for us to use. We just quit going because I couldn’t shop with her there, it was too hard. Now, we can go as a family and go grocery shopping there.”

Front-end manager Nikolas Mylonas said the move was all about accommodating anybody who may need them.

“We brought the Caroline carts in because we wanted to make sure we could accommodate families with special needs,” Mylonas said. “We brought them in because a lot of people had asked about them. We started researching and finding we were able to order two. We brought them in strictly because we want to show that we can accommodate anybody who may need them. We do have a lot of people that come in who may need to use them. It’s a huge step in the right direction. All of us were really excited to get them. I showed up the night they arrived and I was glad we had them in our store.”

WinCo Foods and Lep-re-kon Harvest Foods in Moses Lake also have Caroline carts in their stores.

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