It’s another glaring example of families having to do more with less in tough economic times. In the opinion of NCFK founder Anissa Lyttle, moms and dads are providing the essentials for their kids, but that leaves little spending money for a trip for clothing.
“I would classify a good majority of the families we identify for help as the working poor,” said Lyttle.
“Both parents have jobs, and the money they make goes to groceries, bills and little if nothing else. Here in our new store, we had kids who were excited that they were able to get things like deodorant and bodywash along with the outfits they got.
“They come from all walks. We have met and helped kids who come from a home where a parent has a college degree. They’ve just went through a layoff and have not found anything else and turned to us to get them through this tough time so their kids have clothes for the semester.”
NCFK just completed outfitting more than 1,000 students for the beginning of the school year, and it is now entering the most requested time on its schedule — fall and winter.
Lyttle has just informed school leaders in the localities NCFK serves that all requests must be placed on hold until the current student load of 1,200 is satisfied.
“That is another overwhelming task we have to face. But we do have public and private contributors who have helped us, and we hope they will come on board again,” she said.
“In some situations, the winter clothes are the same outfits they had last year, and you know how kids are — they outgrow them quickly, both in clothes and shoes. With those number of kids to service, we might not be able to get them a certain number of outfits, but we always make sure we get them something,” Lyttle continued.
Once based out of the garage in her home with plastic totes stacked to the ceiling, Lyttle and her volunteers now have hundreds of square feet to use for clothing purchased for kids in a location obtained with the help of the inaugural Jeff Byrd Grant awarded to NCFK last year by Speedway Children’s Charities.
That got Lyttle face to face with a good percentage of children and their families for the first time.
“In the past, we only got to see a small percentage of the kids we served,” she said.
“We would get a size, then we would pick out three outfits, shoes and other accessories and send the package out. Now with our location, the kids come in and take their pick off the rack. Of course, they are limited to a certain number of items. All of them have been respectful and are very appreciative.”
Besides monetary donations, the agency also welcomes clubs, civic groups, churches and other organizations to have underwear and sock drives — to fill a growing need.
“I’m telling you, underwear and socks are better than money in some cases,” said Lyttle.
Donations can also be made in memory of someone or a family can specify a child in a community to shop for through NCFK.
Those who would like to start a drive or get more information about helping students in the region can contact Lyttle at 360-4065 or can send contributions to: New Clothes For Kids; 375 Emory Church Road; Kingsport, TN 37664.