Radford Clothing Bank helps students prepare for school
For most students, there are few days more important than the first day of a new school year.
It’s the time when many get to make their first impression on their classmates, and looking their best is very important.
For some students, however, such a grand first appearance is a financial impossibility.
The Radford Clothing Bank’s program, August Kids, hopes to change that by providing students in need with the opportunity to purchase a brand new supply of threads for the school year.
Program coordinator Mary Susan Vehorn said this will be the fifth year in the program’s more than 25-year history that the bank will provide families with vouchers they can use to purchase new clothing and shoes themselves, rather than picking from a batch of pre-purchased goods.
Vehorn said this system made the process easier for the clothing bank workers, as well as more enjoyable for the students.
“It gives them the experience of being able to walk into a store and being able to say, ‘This is what I’m going to choose to get,’ … rather than us saying, ‘We decided these are nice clothes, which do you like?’ ” Vehorn said.
The opportunity to apply for a voucher is available to any student enrolled in the free or reduced-price lunch program in the Radford City Schools. Working with the schools, Vehorn said a letter and application is sent to each eligible family, explaining the program and supplying them with instructions on how to complete the in-person application process that takes place at Central United Methodist Church in Radford.
Vehorn said that typically about 50 percent of the letters sent out result in a parent or guardian’s showing up to complete this process, which last year translated into 251 students from 131 families being assisted.
“Between 10 a.m. and noon, we’ve been known to give away $18,000,” Vehorn said.
This year the program has mailed 333 letters, up from 282 in 2011, which Vehorn hopes will increase the number of students the program is able to supply with the $75 voucher.
Of course, the vouchers are not passed out without strings attached. A list of rules accompanies the vouchers to ensure that the money is used appropriately.
The vouchers are only good from Aug. 7-22 and can only be used at the Walmart located on Peppers Ferry Road in Fairlawn.
The store’s employees will verify the adult’s ID and voucher, that the student is present, and that the items being purchased are approved “back-to-school” clothing.
All sales are final, so Vehorn said she strongly encourages the adults to have their students try on the clothing prior to purchasing it.
Vehorn said the rules ensure that the money is spent as it is intended, which is the bank’s main concern.
“This is important to these kids and these families, that they can do this. We want them to have what they need for school,” Vehorn said.
The Roanoke Times | 381-1643
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