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Caring Hands Ministries offers free clothes for kids Friday
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Kids Clothes Day

When: 4-7 p.m. Friday

Where: Faith Outreach Church, 48 Technology Park Drive, Cleveland

Want to help?

To donate clothes: Take them to Faith Outreach Church, 48 Technology Park Drive, Suite 2, Cleveland; Whole Word Worship Center, 5007 Ga. 52 E., Dahlonega; or Caring Hands Ministries, 6451 U.S. 129, Suite 3, Clermont

To volunteer: Call Caring Hands Ministries, 706-219-1980

As the beginning of the school year approaches, Caring Hands Ministries is offering children’s clothing free to those in financial need.

"A tradition in the mountains used to be that neighbors help their neighbors, and this pulls on that tradition," said Ann Fleming, who is organizing the Kids Clothes Day for a 10th year. "Everyone can see that, yes, there are needs in the community but, no, it’s not up to the government to fix it all. It’s up to us."

The group still needs volunteers to help set up clothes this afternoon and evening and to help give away clothes Friday. Fleming said she is particularly in need of a Spanish speaker to greet Hispanic families. Those who attend are asked to bring their own box or bag to hold clothes. "When kids don’t have clothes, they don’t want to go to school," Fleming said. "Other kids make fun of them and they get discouraged. Just walk into a classroom and you can see it."

Before the event was started, the ministry was flooded with requests for help with bills or rent payments a month after school began because parents spent that money on their children’s clothes. The group also invites parents to drop off their children’s old clothes for reuse by others.

"There’s no end to the amount of used clothes in this world because every child grows and is a source for hand-me-downs," Fleming said. "People can go from being a part of the problem to being a part of the solution, and that makes a difference for how people feel about themselves."

The group helped more than 370 children and adults from Lumpkin, Dawson, White, Hall and Habersham counties obtain clothes and school supplies last year. As families face increasing economic troubles this year, Fleming said she expects even more.

"We’re getting a lot of phone calls from people who have never asked anyone for anything," she said. "They have no idea how to go about it. They ask if they have to bring a driver’s license, and I tell them to just come."