As kids head out for their first day of school Tuesday morning, a Lynnwood-based charity is having trouble helping needy family fulfill their basic clothing needs.
Clothes for Kids is experiencing a dramatic increase in demand from the community.
“Without operating support and basic needs filled we are in danger of having to turn families away,” program manager Nancy Laird-Burris said.
In the first week of operation this year Clothes for Kids served over 500 children, a record number for the organization. Now they are struggling to meet the basic needs and funding the cost of operating the storefront facility on 168th Street SW.
“The biggest difference can be made through financial donations – big and small. These dollars go directly to cover the cost of providing critical needs and ensuring that the doors stay open,” Laird-Burris said. “Our generous volunteers who provide over 8,500 volunteer hours annually help to keep our expenses at a minimum allowing the financial support from the community to directly benefit children in need.”
Secure donations can be made online at clothesforkids.org.
Clothes for Kids expects the need to increase with many families feeling the effects of the down economy.
Is this an all volunteer program or does some of the staff get paid and how much?
I'm confused. After the big apartment fire people were turned away with all the donations coming in. I had a backpack full of boy clothes and school supplies but no where to give it to. Why does this organization not have enough? Are they relying solely on money?
BSJ, we are primarily a volunteer-based organization (we have approximately 60 regular volunteers that log around 8,500 hours annually). However being around over 25 years we have found it is essential to have paid staff to carry out key duties. At present we have one full time and one part time employee.
Tmcast, excellent point. We do accept new and gently used children's clothing, information on donation hours is on our website at clothesforkids.org. The great majority of our clothing inventory is donated, which allows us to serve as many children as we do.
We rely on monetary donations to pay for things like the rent at our physical location of Clothes for Kids at 16725 52nd Avenue West in Lynnwood. A key part of our program is the shopping experience as parents and children come together and select their clothing items in a retail enviornment.
Other costs include the utilities (we run a lot of loads of laundry!), salaries of our small paid staff mentioned above, and selectively purchasing wardrobe items (like shoes) that are very hard to come by via donations.
In past years we have run very low on clothing in the fall. However this year, thanks to many generous donations, our clothing inventory is stable but our monetary donations are running lower.
Thanks to all for the great questions and interest in the Clothes for Kids program.
Do families pay for the clothing? A couple of years ago I was asked to run an auction for your organization but after FINALLY getting a budget to see how much was needed to be raised, I decided not to put a year of work into paying for the staff salaries and overhead that should be cut down.
BSJ – No, all the clothing is provided at no charge to families. We like to say our boutique shop is just like a regular clothing store, the only difference is there is no cash register!
Our organization, like many other non-profits of our size, has definitely seen its challenges over the past few years. Over the past year we have had to make some difficult choices, including a big one in eliminating our full-time Executive Director position. This reduced our payroll expenses by over 50%.
I have served as a volunteer on the CFK Board of Directors for about 3 1/2 years now, and as President of the Board since this past December, and my main focuses has been to run as “lean” of an operation as possible while still serving as many families as we do.
We are always looking for input and new voices on our Board of Directors, if you would be interested in learning more feel free to contact me (my info is on the clothesforkids.org site).
Thank you for your questions and interest.
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