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Group helps clothe area students

Caring Hands expects high turnout for annual event

POSTED: July 29, 2008 5:00 a.m.

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The first day of school often evokes a buzz of excitement, with many kids looking forward to seeing friends and getting the chance to sport the latest in fall fashion.

As the first day draws near, some may have anxiety about which shoes to wear, but others may have anxiety about not having any shoes at all.

That’s where a Clermont-based group hopes to help out.

On Monday, Caring Hands Ministries will hold its 10th annual Clothes Day, where donated children’s clothes for ages ranging from toddlers to teens are offered to anyone in need.

Ann Fleming, executive director of Caring Hands Ministries, said the clothes come from donors in White, Lumpkin and Hall counties, but are available to any parent or grandparent who needs clothing to outfit children.

Fleming said 295 kids showed up for the clothing drive last year, but she expects even more will flock Monday afternoon to the Whole Word Worship Center in Dahlonega to collect school supplies and secondhand clothes.

"I suspect we’ll have an awful lot this year because of the way the economy is going," she said.

Fleming said the ministry has no restrictions regarding income or residency, and aims to get more kids to school properly dressed. She said it’s difficult for some parents to afford clothing for rapidly growing children.

"Kids are kids," she said. "They need something to wear to school. Basically, if kids don’t have anything that fits them, they don’t want to go to school."

Fleming said the drive will offer "everything from summer clothes to winter coats."

She said Clothes Day was started 10 years ago when a high school student riding the school bus took notice of a boy in first grade who was wearing pink women’s flip-flops. While other kids teased the little boy, the high schooler asked him, "Why the pink flops?"

He informed the 14-year-old girl he and his brother had come to stay with their grandmother in an emergency, with only the clothes on their backs and no shoes on their feet. His grandmother scrambled to find shoes for him to wear to school, and was able to offer only her pink flip-flops.

The high schooler pooled together her and her friends’ lunch money to buy the boy shoes and socks to wear, and asked Caring Hands Ministries if they could help provide more.

Thus was the beginning of Clothes Day. Six years later, the ministry also began collecting school supplies for students.

Fleming said the ministry has collected more than one ton of clothing for this year’s Clothes Day, but still needs more school supplies for the Monday give-away.

She said elementary school students are often the ones in the greatest need of supplies such as pencils, paper, pens, notebooks, crayons and glue sticks. She said many elementary schools ask children to show up the first day of school with tissue and supplies for the classroom.



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