Eblen Charities: Demand for student clothing program grows

Press release

From the Eblen Charities newsletter

With the 2013 school year a little more than half way through, the Eblen Charities’ Student Clothing Project and If the Shoe Fits Program in the Buncombe County and Asheville City Schools continue to see the need grow as these two programs have again reached record numbers in the students we serve.

The Student Clothing Project and the If the Shoe Fits Program of the Eblen Charities have seen an unprecedented number of requests this past year from teachers, staff, and parents in our community.

In the first 6 months of this school year we assisted more than 1,800 students, more than 85% of the students we served the entire previous school year, 300 more students than we served in the first six moths of school last year.

In the 2012 school year we served 2,137 students with clothing and shoes compared to 1,239 students during the 2009-2010 school year through this unique partnership.

In these troubled times, many in our community face monthly bills that take everything they have, and when extra expenses arise, they have little if anything to spend.

This is especially difficult for families with children, when they outgrow their clothes and shoes, and cannot afford to buy them new clothes.

Their only choice is sending their children to school with worn-out, ragged and ill-fitting clothes and shoes that may not keep them warm.

Having to choose between food and shelter or clothing for their children leaves little choice at all.

Now in our seventh year, the Eblen Student Clothing Project and the If the Shoe Fits Program (in partnership with the Asheville Tourist’s Children Fund) have grown from assisting around 100 students a year to assisting more than 2,100 students last year with new clothes and shoes.

One of many stories that always resonates with our clothing and shoe programs is one we have shared before. A grandmother, who herself was battling ill-health was raising her only grandson alone. Each day she has to choose between the things she needs and her grandson needs.

“I will always choose him,” she told us, “but most of the time there isn’t enough money for me to buy the things he needs and deserves. He has outgrown almost all of his clothes and has to go to school in things that are much too small and worn. I know the other children laugh at him, but he says it really doesn’t bother him. But I can see it in his eyes that it hurts him.”

Even though her grandson never complains, he still is having to face each day at school looking and feeling different than his classmates. He loves his grandmother and he knows she is doing all she can. He just smiles and tells her not to worry. And thanks to the Eblen Student Clothing Project, Helen and her grandson have less to worry about.

How The Programs Works:

It is easy to access the Student Clothing Project or the If the Shoe Fits Program. Eblen Charities receives calls from a school teacher, counselor, or administrator requesting help. We then contact one of our partner stores and the student along with someone from the school visits the store and shops for the clothes that the student needs.

Eblen Charities then reimburses the store for the purchase. The programs are open to all students in need of clothing in Buncombe County and Asheville City school systems.

This program not only provides the clothes students need but gives the students the choice and dignity that that their classmates have and they don’t have to depend on hand-me-downs or other second-hand clothing to wear to school.

Thanks to school counselors and our clothing supporters, children needing clothes for school were able to go shopping with their counselors to buy much needed clothing.

“The students were so excited to pick out their own clothes,” and when they were told they could pick out more clothes they surprisingly asked “more?” states a Buncombe County School counselor.

Eblen Charities is grateful to be working with Goodwill, Payless, K-Mart, Target, and Wal-Mart to provide clothing for the students we have the honor to work with in this endeavor. Thanks to the generosity of these stores and Eblen supporters, all students in our community can attend school with dignity and can old their heads high.

If you would like to join us in reaching out in helping students in our community to get the clothing they need or for more information on the Student Clothing Project or If the Shoe Fits of the Eblen Charities, please contact Susan Riddle at 828-255-3066 extension 11 or via email at sriddle@eblencharities.org


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