Children's Clothing Center on mission as it preps for move to Delaware County Building
MUNCIE, Ind. — Gloria Adams has taken on a big job in retirement, running a small but vital nonprofit that has been quietly helping needy schoolchildren since 1983.
The Children's Clothing Center works with all schools throughout Delaware County providing new and used clothing for kids in need. The organization also steps in to help families left without things to wear after housefires and domestic disputes. Those receiving help are referred to the center.
The center is making a move from the second floor of the Old St. Lawrence School at Charles and Hackley streets to the Delaware County Building downtown across the next month.
Forrest Bowers, the center's board chairman, said the current upstairs room above the St. Vincent De Paul Thrift Store is not easily accessible for disabled people. "A lot of grandparents are raising their grandchildren," Adams said. "They have trouble going up the stairs." The move to the elevator-equipped county building will solve that problem.
The home for the Clothing Center will be on the third floor across from the commissioners courtroom, in space left open after many court-related offices moved to the new Justice Center. It should provide more room. For the center's current space, a Eagle Scout built a wooden frame for holding the racks of clothes in all sizes. The framework was made to disassemble. Once taken apart it will be moved to the new home downtown, Bowers said.
The charitable rent the center will be charged by the county will stay the same as it has been the old school, Bowers said, "$1,000 a year."
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Adams, a retired registered nurse, who had worked at hospitals in Muncie and New Castle, has been working with the center since the 1990s. She does the extensive legwork for the organization, responding to emergency cases.
"This week, a lady involved in a domestic violence situation had to leave home. She came up here to get clothes," Adams said.
Bowers said said Adams must come to meet the needs of people in all sorts of situation at the time required.
But the charity is primarily aimed at children, he said. Often adults come to get clothing for their children but also need clothing for themselves.
"People don't realize our mission," Adams said. "Some of the adults want clothes, too. Sometime we can't provide that. The children come first."
School and Head Start officials can refer students, as young as age 4, to the center when they not their clothing isn't adequate or if it is dirty from being worn too often without washing.
The clothing center will accept home-schooled students as well, Adams said.
Under the program's shopping guidelines, every child can receive up to seven new pairs of socks, seven pairs of underwear, and a new T-shirt twice each school year.
Children are limited to two pairs of new jeans and four pair of used jeans within a school year. Two coats every school year and one hat, scarf and gloves as well. Students can also receive two sets of sleepwear, one in fall and one in spring, each school year.
Each month, parents can shop for up to three used items every month.
Adams leaves packets of paperwork at each school at the start of the year. The center works within a budget of about $10,000 a year, with all the money coming through donations or grants.
Both said the need keeps growing in Delaware County and the center strains to meet the challenge.
Adams said kids who dress in shabby, worn clothing are often picked on at school. She strives to buy some new clothing of the type that could be worn by anyone from any family.
But the loss of local retailers in Muncie, such as JCPenney and Macy's, both of which had worked with the program, has narrowed selection. She said she often waits for sales to purchase new clothing.
The center also takes used clothing donations and has benefited from clothing drives from churches and even from students in the schools. A few years ago, then-high school senior Emma Shook conducted her own drive that collected 4,700 pieces of clothing for the center and needy kids throughout the county.
The center will accept any amount of clothing donations and will sort them for their proper use.
Bowers said the center has made an estimated $34,000 worth of clothing available to people in the community in the past few years.
Adams says she meets people who recognize her from when they visited the center as a child. One man came to her and thanked her for the help she provided when his family was going through a rough time.
"One little girl came up to me in McDonald's she had a smile and spun around. She had on this dress and she said 'Look, I'm wearing your dress,'" Adams recalled.
To keep doing this work, the center need resources, Bowers and Adams said, which not only includes funding, and clothing donations but also volunteers.
The work includes everything from sorting clothes to working with families needing clothes to organizing clothing collection drives.
The center can be contacted by email at email@example.com. Donations can be made by mail to Clothing Center of Delaware County, P.O. Box 905, Muncie, IN 47308.
David Penticuff is the local government reporter at the Star Press. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article originally appeared on Muncie Star Press: Center needs funds and people to continue work for children in need