I was excited when a last-minute opening in our Delivering Christmas calendar allowed me the opportunity to head to Stanford Gibson Primary School on Wednesday to assist with the Holiday Clothing Drive. I’d written about the program, which is a joint cooperation between The Place and the Norwich City School District, before. But this was my first time pitching in.
The goal of the Holiday Clothing Drive is to provide a new outfit (pants and shirt) to children in need during the Holiday season. It was initially started by the school system on a small scale in the 1980s. As need in the community has grown, the program has grown. The Place first became involved by providing volunteers. Last year, the non-profit’s role expanded and it now handles administration of the program.
Requests for clothing are funneled through the school district’s social workers, Kelly Collins-Colosi and Sarah Hordge. As of Wednesday, some 203 families had signed up, which translated to more than 500 kids in need.
How do they fill all those requests? Well, that’s where the community comes in. Giving trees decorated with ornaments indicating specific clothing items were placed at Wal Mart and each of Norwich’s school buildings. Helpful shoppers take that as their cue, grabbing tags off the trees and purchasing the appropriate articles of clothing. Others choose to donate cash instead, which volunteers then use to purchase the other items they need.
According to Kelly, the program relies heavily on these donations. This year, approximately $3,000 was raised between the myriad of private and corporate donations, including generous gifts from the Robert Smith Foundation and Wal Mart. But they were still short of what they needed to fill all of their requests, until the Emmanuel Episcopal Church came through for them in the eleventh hour with a $2,000 check.
As it so happens, Jim Everard was delivering the check when I arrived on Wednesday. It made me feel kind of giddy actually, because I could see how thrilled Kelly and the others were to see the gap closed. There were probably visions of pint-sized and junior clothing dancing in their heads.
It didn’t take long for Kelly and Sarah to put me to work alongside the other volunteers, which included several Unison employees and representatives from The Place...