The mission of the local nonprofit Clothes To Kids is to provide new and quality used clothing to low-income or in-crisis school-age children, free of charge. The organization envisions a community in which every school-age child has quality clothing so that he or she may attend school with the confidence and self-esteem needed to achieve academic success.
The group recently held its ‘Shoetober’ event, and it was a huge success.
“It was a neat initiative,” said Clothes To Kids’ executive director, Jennifer Jacobs. “Shoetober was a monthlong collection drive for new and gently used shoes. Each year, Clothes To Kids provides more than 13,000 pairs of shoes to kids in our communities.”
Clothes To Kids had a very unique start.
Marie McClung, a co-founder, volunteered in her sister Terry’s classroom on a weekly basis back in the early 2000s. Marie was familiar with all of the children in the classroom and was always ready to jump in and help with anything her sister needed for her students.
On a rare cold Florida morning, Marie’s sister called her and said she had a little girl in her classroom that would not be able to go outside for gym class without a jacket. She asked Marie if she would hurry to the store and buy a coat. Marie jumped in the car, ran into a local store and bought a purple coat in just the right size.
When she dropped off the coat, she was touched by the deep gratitude of the little girl, who looked up at Marie with her smiling big brown eyes and offered a huge hug.
“This story stuck with both Marie and Terry,” Jacobs said. “When Marie and Jode Eye, the other co-founder of the organization, sat at Jode’s kitchen table in the spring of 2002, Marie told Jode about this little girl and the purple coat. They decided they had to do something. They had to do something about children who didn’t have the clothing they needed. The purple coat became a symbol to them and was the inspiration and motivation they needed to get this mission started. With a purple coat and a kitchen table, Clothes To Kids was born.”
Jacobs hopes the Riverview community will help them bring clothes and shoes to the children and families who will need them in the upcoming holidays.
“We will distribute more than 13,000 pairs of shoes this year and every year, so it’s critical that our community knows that we need help with them,” Jacobs said.
To learn more about Clothes To Kids, visit www.clothestokids.org or call Jacobs at 616-6430. Clothes To Kids is located at 5011-H W. Hillsborough Ave. in Tampa.