Submitted by Ashley Swadley
Laughter, smiles and God’s word were among the many things found before dawn at Kohl’s department store on Sept. 22 and 29. Lines wrapped around the building and more than 1,240 local under-privileged children picked out new clothes for school. Clothe-A-Child, a local 501c non-profit program, is responsible for bringing such happiness and blessings to Collin County children in need.
“The event is great,” volunteer Stan Driskell said. “I have volunteered for the past four years, and each year feels more and more rewarding. You see God working in McKinney today through smiling faces and over joyous families.”
Members of a church in McKinney created Clothe-A-Child 13 years ago with a mission to spread God’s word and provide for the local children. Other churches and organizations joined in, and what started as a small program continues to grow each year to cities like Allen, Frisco, Little Elm and Prosper. As the organization plans to continue expansion in the future, it would not be possible without the help of local churches in the community.
“One hundred percent of donations collected go straight to the children,” said Robert Zimbro, vice president of Clothe-A-Child. “We do not take administration fees or salaries. It’s all about the kids.”
In McKinney, Clothe-A-Child gears up each year in September, when local churches and 3eMcKinney begin collecting donations. Kohl’s department store is the official corporate sponsor of the event providing time, staff and discounted clothing. Once school is in session, teachers and faculty help facilitate the selection process by seeking out families in greatest need. From there, a family can fill out the application for an invitation to the big day. Each child selected can shop for up to $100 in tax-free clothing. A volunteer shops with each family, and it is obvious the experience is meaningful in many ways.
“I participated in Clothe-A-Child for three years in middle school. My mom and I picked out the clothes I needed and felt extremely blessed by the process. It was an amazing feeling to go to school the next day with new clothes,” said Trey, a high school student who volunteered this year. “I wanted to help the people that had previously helped me. As I become more familiar with the program, I see how truly heart-felt it is. I plan on continuing to volunteer each year.”
The event would not be possible without the hospitality and kind hearts of the programs donators and volunteers. More children sign up each year, and it took over 600 volunteers to make the project happen this past September.
“Anytime you think you are doing something for God or his people, you seem to really get the most out of it,” said Danny and Laura Dewerry, first time volunteers. “Great day, great blessings and great kids. We will for sure volunteer the next weekend!”
No experience is necessary to volunteer for this program. Check-in, shoppers and cashiers are just a few of the many jobs needed to run the event. As families leave, they are provided free Bibles, church contact information and even prayed over.
“It’s a huge blessing for me and my entire family,” said Lupita, a mom of four. Her children left with new shoes, warm jackets and matching outfits for the girls. “I want to thank everybody that helped with this. Thank you so much!”