KINGSPORT, Tenn. (WJHL)- A local nonprofit is in dire need of items ahead of the winter season.
SMILE Foster Closet works to equip children in the foster care system with the necessities to make it through temporary placement.
“In 2019, we helped 526 foster children. 2020 has been a little different with ups and downs and schools in and out and things like that, but last month, we served 60 children and I don’t anticipate that going down,” SMILE Foster Closet board president, Rachel Lawson said.
“I made a plea yesterday, for underwear because it’s something that every single person on this planet needs and our foster kids are not excluded from that,” she said. “It also can be an awkward conversation topic from some people, especially the children, if they’re in a new home. They don’t want to ask to their new foster parent that they just met a few minutes ago.”
SMILE Foster Closet board president, Rachel Lawson said the organization needs donations as we inch closer to towards the colder months.
Following the Facebook post, officials said the organization received more than 50 pairs of underwear!
- Men’s large clothing
- Women’s large clothing
- Sports bras of any size
- Men’s and women’s large socks
- Sneakers of any size Youth 1 and up
“We need sneakers – all sizes – youths up to adults. Youth ones, up to 12 and 13 for our men guys and 11s and 12s for our women,” she said. “We need women’s plus size clothing, like 16 and up. They can be gently used. It’s okay if all of these are gently used.”
The only items they ask to be new when donated are socks and underwear.
“We need athletic wear. The boys and girls – it’s kind of what they want to wear to school these days. Our foster kids want to be just like other kids out there,” she said.
The organization, which depends on donations, is hoping to take the edge off of foster families as they open their homes to kids put in the system.
“Supporting these families means that we’re helping them to continue to foster because if they don’t get support, they won’t continue to foster and these kids will have nowhere to go,” Lawson said. “Sometimes, we’ll get a family that’s got three or four kids, maybe even five in a sibling set and to go out to buy all the hygiene products for each and every kids would be really expensive.”
Those who are unable to meet in person can drop off items at this box across from the entrance of Waverly Road Childcare Center, at anytime.
Those who donate are asked to call the non-profit at (423)-480-1531 or leave a message on the organization’s Facebook message.
In October, the organization plans to partner with Seasons of Hope for “Socktober”, a drive that collects socks through the end of October for infants, children, and youth.