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Clothes Closet sees increased need for donations
By Stacy Wright, Staff Writer 11/10/2004
To some kids the best gift ever would be a Care Bear or an action figure. To others, the greatest toy ever is just a pair of underwear.

Tammie Williams watched as a mother and her 3-year-old son walked into the Clothes Closet one afternoon.

She gave them a couple of pairs of clothes and socks. She went in the back to find a pair of underwear.

"We were low on inventory and I finally came up with Bob the Builder underwear," Williams said. She handed the underwear to the mother and the mother gave the underwear to her child.

"He grabbed the package of Bob the Builder underwear and would never let go," Williams said. "Here was this 3-year-old with Bob the Builder underwear hold it like he'd been given the greatest toy ever."

More and more families from the Carrollton-Farmers Branch area are making a trip to the Clothes Closet, a non-profit store that is used to assist students and their families with 'gently-used' clothing items.

"We give away a tremendous amount," Williams said. "This year, we've seen a 300 percent increase in need."

Last year, the Clothes Closet provided 439 children clothes in the 15 days of operations. This year the Clothes Closet has provided 433 children clothes in the four days of operation they have had.

"We have 11 more days to go and we are already at the number we had at 15 days last year," Williams said. And those numbers do not include what the Clothes Closet provides to nurses and counselors who come in for help.

Williams said she believes the increase is because of the economy and movement in the community. She said majority of the families come from Farmers Branch.

"Our donations are not really down; it's just our need is up," Williams said. Approximately 47 percent of the 26,000 Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD students come from low-income homes, according to Charles Cole, assistant superintendent of student, family and community services.

With a high demand comes the need for more donations.

All items in the Clothes Closet are either donated or purchased with monetary donations. All sizes of gently used clothing are accepted for adults and children. Williams said the closet is always low on boys and men's clothing.

"When we get our donations in, we have our sorting process," Williams said. "If it's ripped, or has paint on it, we won't put it out." She said they try to keep what 95 percent of people would pick. Anything that is not kept is sent to the Salvation Army, where they have washing machines to take out paints and stains on clothing. Bedding, pots, pans and other items are also sent to the Salvation Army.

Counselors and school staff must refer a student to the Clothes Closet. Once the student is referred he or she and the family may come to the Clothes Closet.

If the student attends a school with uniforms, he or she may receive one uniform and four gently used outfits, some pairs of socks and underwear. Students who do not attend a school with a uniform may receive five gently used uniforms, some pair of socks and underwear.

Family members may receive five gently used outfits. Everyone is allowed one coat and a pair of shoes if they are available. No cost is associated with the all-volunteer operation, which is put on by the Council of PTA's.

"It's really important that people understand for a child's success in school, clothing is an important thing," Williams said. "Hopefully we can touch a few of them to help their self-esteem so they can walk through those doors and feel good about themselves."

Williams said it is difficult for some people to come to the Clothes Closet.

Variety types of families come for help. Some income earners have gotten laid off. For others, there are large families who only have one income.

"Many of them are not only providing for themselves and children, they are also providing for their parents too," Williams said. "Part of it is just the nature of our society."

Williams particularly remembers a young man around the age of 21 who visited the Clothes Closet last school year. He was working and taking care of three children. "He came into the Clothes Closet and literally had no clothing," Williams said. The man was attempting to raise his two nieces and nephew.

This school year, the man came back and has full custody of the three children. "He was kind, courteous and even offered to work in the place," Williams said.

She said he just needed help and the Clothes Closet was a way to get it.

For information on the Clothes Closet, visit http://www.cfbisd.edu/pub/clothescloset.htm or call 972-466-6195.

Contact staff writer Stacy Wright at 972-538-2118 or wrights@scntx.com.

Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD Educational Foundation


C-FB ISD Council of PTAs


C-FB Clothes Closet


Ranchview High School PTSA


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