Anissa Lyttle fold clothes together at the New Clothes for Kids office at 101 W. Center Street. File photo.
After 15 years and thousands of new clothes provided to more than 29,000 kids, New Clothes For Kids is shutting its doors.
Anissa Lyttle, founder and executive director of New Clothes For Kids, is moving to Florida with her family. But that doesn’t mean the thousands of children who received new clothes through the program will be forgotten. Lyttle already has plans in place for a smooth transition.
“We plan to assist children for the 2013-2014 school year,” she said. “We have taken all of our items and been working with 13 agencies that will distribute these items to 16 different counties.”
New Clothes for Kids has been working with the city of Kingsport, Sullivan County, Hawkins County, Russell County, Va., Johnson City, Washington County, Johnson City school system and many others covering areas in Southwest Virginia and Northeast Tennessee.
Lyttle has worked with all of these agencies before, but now the roles will be reversed.
In the past, the agencies would make referrals to New Clothes for Kids and the organization would send the items. Now, with New Clothes for Kids shutting down, the agencies will have all the items and can match the kids with their needs.
“I think in the short term it will be good because they will already have the items available,” Lyttle said. “Long term should be good too because hopefully the community will help out.”
Lyttle started New Clothes for Kids when she saw a need in the community. She noticed there were programs around Christmas, but no regular programs to assist children the rest of the year. So she began the organization to “make sure every child had what they needed.”
She has not made money from the organization. Every penny that came in to New Clothes for Kids went to buy more items. One of the reasons the organization will shut down is because not a lot of people are willing to work 40-50 hours a week for free, Lyttle said.
She wanted to thank all the donors. She said the company did not receive a lot of big corporate checks, but instead relied heavily on small donations.
New Clothes for Kids has meant a lot to Lyttle over the past 15 years.
“It’s overwhelming to me,” she said as she tried to choke back the tears. “Most of what we’ve done has been generosity through the community. I’m grateful for the opportunity. ... To the kids we’ve helped, I’d like to think a gift made a difference to them. I’m glad we’ve made a difference.”