Community for Kids offers fall clothing for elementary students
Published 10:43 am Sunday, August 28, 2022
Community for Kids (C4K) is scheduling appointments at their Manteo center for families with elementary children in need of clothing.
This year, C4K has reorganized its space to allow for both summer and winter clothing, allowing them to reach their community in greater ways. Though they started with winter coats, President Katy Bell and her board recognize that students are wearing warm-weather clothes well into the start of the school year.
Appointments can me made online at www.c4kobx.org for Tuesdays and Thursdays in September from 2:30-6:30 p.m. and Saturdays in September from 10 a.m. to noon.
In the 30-minute private appointments, elementary students are given tickets to “shop” among the gently used or new clothes, shoes, and accessories in the center. It is set up like a clothing store with well-organized racks, a dressing room, and mirrors. Most students select between 6-10 items of clothing per visit.
The shopping experience is designed to be enjoyable for kids. Once they’ve selected their clothes to take home, a C4K volunteer presents each child with a small paper t-shirt to remind them that they are a valuable member of their community.
Bell tells students, “Your community cares about you. We want you to be able to focus on school, and not have to worry about your clothes—if they are warm enough or if they’re cool. You are a member of a community too, maybe at home in your family, on your soccer team, or at church. Everything you do for your little community that’s positive, makes your big community stronger.”
Each child takes home the paper t-shirt with a way they, too, can make an impact on their community. The ideas are simple, like making a card for a neighbor, looking someone in the eye when they’re speaking, or sharing dessert.
The vision of C4K is “to inspire our youth to connect with community and feel compelled to give back.”
They’re starting with clothes, but the long-term goal is to develop a mentorship program between older high school students and elementary students with like interests. This could include playing catch, helping with homework, or reading aloud.
But for now, the non-profit is focusing on serving families in need. The past few years, C4K helped about 100 families with clothes; last year that number dipped to about 75. “Kids were home, and they didn’t have as great a need for new clothes if they weren’t going to school. With the gut punch of gas and groceries, as kids go back to school, we’re anticipating a much higher need this year,” Bell said.
C4K focuses on foster kids and families who have economic hardship, but, said Bell, “we recognize that with the current economic environment, just about every family could benefit by receiving clothes for their family and we’re fine with that.”
One of the reasons the center is able to offer fall appointments is because of the strong volunteer base of a few committed high school students, who have spent many hours sorting and organizing clothes, as well as a young adult volunteer coordinator, Ricky Segura. Segura, who is working toward a Master’s in Finance and Accounting, volunteers two Saturdays a month and two weekdays, providing additional blocks of time for high schoolers to come to the center to help.
“I’ve gone through school, done a little bit of both worlds. I don’t consider myself a mentor, but maybe later in life I could develop into that. I’m just a normal 26-year-old trying to help my community,” he said.
Rylee Young, a senior at First Flight High School, volunteers because she had a foster sister in her home growing up. “Seeing what she came to my house with, it broke my heart. She came with a black trash bag with a few of her belongings,” she said. “Anything I can do to give back to my community, I’m going to do.”
Manteo High School seniors and best friends Cole Walker and Will Waughtel echoed the same sentiment. “I wanted to help the community—to help kids. When this opportunity came up, it was extra,” Waughtel said.
Both students are busy—Walker is Co-President of the National Honor Society, and plays and coaches tennis. Waughtel runs cross-county and is the Senior Class President.
Waughtel has been class president through all four years of high school, and he sees his position as an opportunity to encourage fellow classmates to get involved in the C4K cause, and a way to reach elementary students indirectly.
“These kids will become adults someday, and we are building the pathway for a strong community,” Waughtel said.