By REBECCA HAZEN
Dade County Schools and Dade First Family Connection are asking community members to donate new clothing to the school’s Care Closets.
According to Kristin Barrett, Dade County Schools Social Worker, the schools already had a small collection of items for students in need. Then, the opportunity arose to receive grant funds.
“Patti Johnson (Director of Academics and Testing) and I wrote a grant for the Innovation Fund, through The Governor’s Office of Student Achievement. That grant allowed us to expand on the care closets. We got one started at the middle school and one at the high school. We bought hangers and shelving. We also bought items to stock the closets and to keep it going. From there it blossomed,” Barrett said.
The Innovation Fund monies have since run out, and the Care Closets now need the community’s help so they can be sustained.
Martha Baker, Coordinator of Dade First Family Connection, noted that Barrett had recently become a new board member of First Family Connection. Barrett mentioned the Care Closet’s needs during a meeting.
“I was already aware of the Care Closets. Kristin and I work together on a lot of things because what we do ties in closely. All the other board members really jumped in and asked what they could do to fix this issue, so that kids aren’t losing learning time,” Baker said.
Barrett and Baker noted that Carey Anderson did a lot of early work of contacting partner agencies, to see where donation boxes could be placed.
“Everyone was 100 percent ready to help,” Baker said.
The Care Closet donation drop off boxes are located at the Dade County Administrative Building, Trenton City Hall, Dade County Public Library, Rising Fawn United Methodist Church, Alliance for Dade Welcome Center, and the Dade First Family Connection office at Trenton United Methodist Church.
Other partners include The HUB, The Trenton-Dade Optimist Club, and the Dade County School System.
Once a month, or if someone calls and lets Barrett and Baker know that a box is full, they will pick up the donations, sort them and take them to the appropriate schools.
“We ask for new items because it takes out any questions of ‘Is this okay or not okay to donate.’ We want the kids to have new things that they will be able to keep,” Baker said.
Any students are able to receive items from the Care Closets; it is not just for students of a certain income requirement.
“It might be accidents; it might be that they spilled something on themselves. Their house could have burned down. Even shoes, if they have an accident, it affects the shoes. We’ve had someone where the sole was coming off the bottom of their shoe. There is an array of causes,” Baker said.
“One time I was in school, and I spilled milk all over me. I had to stay in those clothes all day, and I smelled like sour milk. Something like this would have been super nice when I was in school,” Barrett said.
Having the Care Closets also helps the parents, because it prevents them from having to leave work, and possibly lose wages, to bring their child a new outfit.
For the rest of the month of May, the Care Closets are in need of shorts. Going forward, the Care Closet will ask for one specific item each month, as needed. That item will be listed on each of the donation boxes.
Even though the boxes are for specific clothing items, any kind of donations, including monetary donations, are accepted for the Care Closet at any time.
Please make checks payable to Dade First Family Connection and mail to P.O. Box 1548, Trenton, GA 30752 or Venmo @dadefirstfamilyconnection.
For questions, please contact Baker at (423) 509-1260 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Barrett can be reached at (706) 657-4361, or email@example.com.
“We are so thankful for the support so far. We could not have done this without the help of the community and the agencies,” Baker said.