'Clothes for Kids' drive at CherryVale Mall

CherryVale Mall will be the host site for the Second Annual “Clothes For Kids” new clothing drive, July 15-31. “Clothes For Kids” is a local partnership among CherryVale Mall, The Salvation Army of Winnebago County, Children’s Clothes Closet, Rockford Public Schools District 205 Homeless Student Advocate Office, and Coca-Cola of Rockford. The “Clothes For Kids” program is an initiative to help clothe area homeless children so they can go back to school in “style” in new clothing like their peers.

A special “Clothes For Kids” display will be set up at CherryVale Mall from Friday, July 15 through Sunday, July 31. Each homeless child’s clothing needs will be listed on a “clothes hanger.” Shoppers and area businesses are encouraged to stop by the display, “adopt” a child and fulfill all the clothing needs listed. For those individuals who would like to donate on a smaller scale, a list of different generic apparel items such as underwear, socks, etc. will gladly be accepted and distributed to those children in need. Monetary donations will also be accepted at the “Clothes For Kids” display. Special discounts and “thank-you” offers from participating CherryVale Mall retailers will be provided to customers adopting a “child” at the “Clothes For Kids” display.

The Rockford Public Schools District 205 Homeless Student Advocate Office and The Salvation Army of Winnebago County will work with 11 social service agencies pre-qualifying “Clothes For Kids” participants. Homeless children are identified as lacking a “fixed, regular and adequate nighttime place of abode.” Children or youth living in welfare hotels, transitional housing, shelters, the streets, cars, abandoned buildings and other inadequate accommodations are considered homeless. This includes children in shelters, children living with another family due to lack of a permanent residence, migratory children, runaways and throwaways. Families meeting the above criteria can contact the following agencies for a “Clothes For Kids” application: Youth Services Network, WAVE, Shelter Care Ministries, MELD, Lydia House, Maya’s House, Serenity House, Rockford Rescue Mission, Crusader Clinic, Carpenter’s Place, Rockford Township and the Rockford Public Schools’ Homeless Student Advocate Office.

Since the children involved in the Rockford area “Clothes For Kids” drive are homeless, the Rockford Public Schools District 205 Homeless Student Advocate Office has offered suggestions for customers wishing to donate new clothing. Customers are asked to limit their donations to no more than three complete outfits, as homeless children have to move often and can’t carry much with them. Since the emphasis on this program is to provide stylish clothing similar to their peers, the apparel should be contemporary and well-fitting. Children who live a transient life see violence every day, so it is important not to purchase apparel with violent themes. Underpants, undershirts and socks are a luxury and are greatly appreciated as a donation item.

Homeless children have access to hair accessories; however, fashionable purses for teen-age girls and good wallets for teen-age boys are rare finds. Because many of these children must make do with what they can obtain as to food, many are under- or overweight, so it is important to purchase the size of clothing listed on the “clothes hanger” tag. Clothing that is sturdy, washes well and does not wrinkle easily is best, as many times clothing is laundered in sinks. Last but not least, clothing that coordinates easily will help these children look and feel their best.

As part of the CherryVale Mall “Clothes For Kids” drive, area social service agencies will set up manned displays during the two-week period to educate the public on services currently available to assist those families or individuals who are homeless or on the verge of being homeless.

Area businesses are invited to adopt a family, so all the children within a particular family will be able to start the school year in new, fashionable apparel. For more information on corporate sponsorship of a child or family during the “Clothes For Kids” drive, contact Cindy Hindes, marketing director, or Stephanie Lemke, assistant marketing director, at (815) 332-2451 (Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m.).

From the July 13-19, 2005, issue

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