The numbers are staggering. Nearly 11,000 children in the state of Washington are in the foster care system, and some 3,000 children are listed as homeless in Spokane County.
In 2007, after watching a story about a store in Ft. Lauderdale that gave new and gently used clothing to foster kids, Robyn Nance and Linda Rogers saw an opportunity to serve the community here in Spokane. Their idea: to open a store providing new and gently used clothing to the kids in the foster system, those facing homelessness, or those in extreme poverty. Since its inception, Teen Closet, now Teen and Kid Closet, has sought to provide high quality clothing to teens and kids who might otherwise not have access to them.
According to Stacey Pincock, the store’s director, “Many of the children and teens served by the foster care system do not have access to nice clothes. Most of them have minimal personal possession or nothing at all when they enter foster care. We are here to help to try and help with that.”
Pincock has been involved with Teen closet for nearly 11 years. She became involved with the store when she was serving as a youth leader at her church. Her young women’s group participated in a service project for Teen Closet, and from that initial contact, she continued to volunteer, eventually being asked to be a board member and the store’s director. As the director, Pincock oversees the Open Houses and spends a large majority of her time sorting through donated clothing.
It is estimated that 850 kids are helped per year by Teen Closet, which leads to a lot of clothing that needs to be sorted by volunteers.
“For every ten bags of clothing we get, we only keep about one. We focus on the best clothing for the kids,” Pincock.
“For me, it’s about making sure gets get to go to school and they don’t have to worry about getting bullied because of their clothing. It’s about dignity and self-esteem,” says Sean Grubb, the Board President for Teen Closet.
Like Pincock, Grubb volunteers his time because he believes in the mission of the store. Teen and Kid Closet is always seeking volunteers like Pincock and Grubb, as they operate on an all-volunteer basis, and their operating budget largely comes from the generous donations of local businesses.
To be considered for the opportunity to pick out clothing, each child or teen has to be referred by someone of authority, for example, social workers, school counselors, ecclesiastical leaders, and teachers. A volunteer at Teen and Kid Closet will then reach out to the referral to schedule a time to come in for an Open House.
Currently the store runs several Open Houses per month at their store at 307 E. Sprague to allow youth to shop for clothes. These occur on the 2nd Saturday of every month from 8:00am-1:00pm, the 4th Tuesday of every month from 5:00pm-7:00pm, and they just added the 3rd Wednesday of every month from 5:00pm-7:00pm.
“The biggest needs are always new underwear and socks,” says Pincock. “Also this time of year we are always looking for new swimsuits and swim trunks.”
Those wishing to donate clothing can drop them off at any INB Bank branch location during business hours, and they ask that you limit the donation to two 20-gallon bags or boxes. There is also an opportunity to partner with them for a one time or monthly contribution. As mentioned previous, Teen and Kid Closet is always seeking volunteers and they encourage family, youth groups or individuals to come and serve alongside them.
All the information regarding donation, partnering, and volunteering can be found on their website, https://www.teenkidcloset.org.
Jeff Borders was born in Spokane, Washington and has lived there since. He is a self published author, focusing in science fiction and fantasy, but he enjoyes writing in all its forms. By trade he is a Respiratory Therapist, but he is also active in his community as a volunteer firefighter, as well as being active in his church. He holds many additional teaching certifications for his fields of employment and he enjoys educating others.
Jeff married his wife Crystyne in 2003, and together they have four, very fun and energetic children.
His website is www.jeffbordersbooks.com