Keeping kids clothed and confident-Teen and Kid Closet

by Matthew O. Stephens

Area youth have been able to depend on a Spokane non-profit to help them get new or gently used clothing items and confidently shop in the store for needed items.

As per the group’s mission statement the goal is to promote the idea that every child is important and should be able to feel that way in the way they dress. The organization looks to provide underprivileged youth clothing options when there otherwise wouldn’t be any available to the kids according to Program Administrator Ela Lopez.

“It’s important for these younger people to be able to have access to clean and nice clothing,” Lopez said. “We allow them to retain their dignity as well by being able to come into the store and shop for it without any worry about what others might think.”

”Seeing the kids so excited is the most rewarding part in the whole process,” Lopez added.

According to the group’s website the Teen and Kid Closet is a small shop in Spokane, and it serves all of eastern Washington and northern Idaho. The only stipulations being that any child that wants to shop needs to have a referral from a professional counselor or someone in a similar field of work.

Babies, kids, teens, and young adults up to 22 can shop for needed items during the designated shopping days, and each age group has a separate list of items they can choose from. Store hours listed on the website show the store is open on the first and third Saturdays and the second and fourth Wednesdays of each month.

Teen and Kid Closet Team
Front row: Cindy Bryant, Cindy England, Susan Cairy, Daniela Colocho, Annie Ditto Second row: Ela Lopez, Jill Dayton, Shannon Dayton, Holly Mulloy, Jen Madrian Third row: Sue Davies, Stacy Pincock, Ellen Peller

The Teen and Kid Closet website also features the group’s Amazon wish list of items that are always needed.

Cindy Bryant who is a board member and volunteers with the non-profit explained that she has seen countless families benefit from this program.

Current statistics found on the group’s website show that over 3,000 children are listed as homeless in Spokane County, and recent global issues have created an increased need for services. COVID and the following economic fallout, Ukrainian refugees fleeing their war-torn country, inflation, rising rent prices, and other factors have all influenced the greater need for services.

“Typically, we would see roughly 120-150 shoppers per month,” Lopez said. “In August alone we had over 200 shoppers.”

“So it has really reached a point where more families and people are reaching out to us for assistance,” Lopez continued.

The increased need for services has also brought an increased need for donations. The Teen and Kid Closet is always accepting quality clothing and financial donations to keep things running and have several working community partnerships that help.

Branches of the First Interstate Bank accept donations that are picked up by volunteers and taken to the store for sorting.

“We get a tremendous amount of donations from our community,” Bryant said. “Recently we even added an extra day for sorting because we have seen so many donations coming in which is so important right now with the increase in shoppers we are seeing.”

“We have such a supportive community,” Lopez added. “It is really wonderful to be able to be in this area.”

According to Bryant the Teen and Kid Closet does see a lot of success due to the outstanding community partnerships with other non-profits that have been built.

“The nice thing about Teen and Kid Closet is that we do have great working relationships with other non-profits,” Bryant said. “There are so many of us trying to do the same thing and reach the same clientele.”

“One of our biggest partnerships is with Embrace Washington,” continued Bryant. “Whenever they get an overstock of donations, they work with us to see if we can use any of it. Spokane Quaranteam and Rick Clark have donated boxes and boxes of clothing, and a local fire station recently came through with four crates full of coats for area youth. Each crate contained 40 boxes of coats to put it in perspective.”

Back to school season means activity increases for a couple months in regard to that, although it is an expected rush every year.

“We have added a few shopping days through the months of August and September,” Bryant said. “This is to help accommodate more young people needing nice clothing for the start of the school year.”

“This year we are really going through the clothing however,” Bryant added. “So we will certainly need the donations to keep coming in even after the back to school rush.”

Fundraising is one way the organization will be able to build finances and there are some community events that area residents can look forward to.

Upcoming events include the Fifth Annual Socktober Dash that is set to be held at Mirabeau Park in Spokane Valley on October 15 at 9 a.m.

There is a 10k and 5k run, and donations of socks and underwear are in demand for all age groups. There will also be prizes for the best socks, worst socks, and most unique socks during the run.

“With COVID we weren’t able to have the live event last year,” Bryant said. “We are expecting a strong response in coming back this year.”
Next year the next installment of the Bourbon and Bacon program will come to town on June 17 for Father’s Day weekend, and many local businesses will have food and drink available with everything fitting the bourbon and bacon flavor theme. It is an event for those 21 and older due to the alcoholic beverages.

Earlier in 2022 the same fundraiser was held at the flight museum and was sold out. According to the group over 400 people were out supporting the local vendors and over $50,000 was raised for the Teen and Kid Closet. The event featured four breweries, four distilleries, and nine restaurants. Group leaders hope for greater success this year.

Anyone interested in donating, volunteering, or registering for any upcoming events can go to www.teenkidcloset.org to get involved.

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