In the Tampa Bay area, 190,000 children are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch. Many of these children need clothes for school and for home life. Clothes To Kids Inc. (CTK) is a Tampa Bay-area nonprofit organization that provides a full wardrobe for low-income or in-crisis school-aged children for free.
According to Clothes To Kids’ website, “Research shows that children who go to school wearing clothes that make them feel like they fit in perform better academically than those who don’t.” Clothes To Kids provides such a place for a child to pick out clothing he or she feels comfortable in.
In 2002, Jode Eye and Marie McClung created Clothes To Kids because of a passion to help children in need. The first storefront (providing new and quality used clothing) opened in June of 2003 in Dunedin. The idea of a storefront was so that children could shop for school clothing in a cheerful, respectful environment, free of charge. Today, there are three CTK storefronts in Clearwater, St. Petersburg and Tampa.
In order for a family to shop at one of the CTK stores, they need to have appropriate documents. Examples of this are a free or reduced-price lunch letter, or a letter from an agency/school affiliate informing the store that the child qualifies to shop there.
Since opening, a total of 200,000 complete wardrobes have been distributed by Clothes To Kids. In 2022 alone, 346,852 individual wardrobe items were supplied to local children. Each wardrobe includes: five pairs of new underwear, five pairs of new socks, five tops, four bottoms, one optional dress, one pair of shoes and one jacket (in season).
Daniella Altamura, development coordinator for Clothes To Kids, stated, “We are always in need of adult or youth volunteers that can help us sort through our donations, tag clothing and restock the store floor. We love when people/places run clothing drives for us or do closest clean-outs. We cannot do what we do without our community.”
If you wish to help, Altamura expressed a great need for donations of elementary-size boy and girl clothing. CTK also accepts new and gently used kids clothing, adult-size clothes, shoes, bras, belts, purses, hats, jewelry, backpacks and new underwear/socks. Any donations are greatly appreciated as well.
For more information or to donate, visit Clothes To Kids’ website at https://clothestokids.org/.