CLEARWATER – William Shakespeare once wrote “clothes maketh the man.”
What he basically meant was that the clothes you wear on the outside – for better or worse – can sometimes help define who you are on the inside.
Everyone should have the opportunity to shine as brightly on the outside as they do on the inside.
And for nearly two decades, Clothes To Kids, a nonprofit clothing store that provides new and quality used clothing to low-income and crisis school-aged children in Pinellas County, has made it a mission to help kids do just that.
In the last 17 years, the nonprofit has provided a week’s worth of clothes, free of charge, to more than 121,000 students in Pinellas County.
Fashioned to look like a department or boutique store, Clothes To Kids, has two locations – one in Clearwater and a second in St. Petersburg.
CTK Development Director Jennifer Jacobs said she hopes kids feel like they are shopping in a regular store.
“It’s an experience we want for them to have,” Jacobs said.
And when they walk out the door, they certainly don’t go empty-handed. Jacobs said the students are provided a full week’s wardrobe, which includes five pairs of underwear, five pairs of socks, five tops, four bottoms, a dress, a pair of shoes, a jacket in season and accessories.
“Each child can shop twice in one calendar year,” Jacobs said.
And since it serves children from pre-kindergarten to 12th grade, that’s a lot of clothes.
And the majority of those clothes come straight from the closets of generous donors from homes all across the county.
“It’s truly phenomenal,” Jacobs said. “Without community support, Clothes To Kids would not exist.”
The nonprofit not only depends on its generous community support for clothing donations, but for monetary ones, as well.
According to Jacobs, for every $1 that is donated, 87 cents goes right back into the nonprofit.
“We are wonderful stewards of the funds you give us,” she said.
While the nonprofit is appreciative of donations in any amount, Jacobs said that every $50 donation funds an entire wardrobe’s worth of clothes.
And with school just around the corner, CTK is asking the community to reach into their closets and their pockets to help those in need.
The organization just launched its Drop Off Your Drawers campaign, aimed at collecting new packs of underwear. Last year, the organization collected and distributed more than 67,000 pairs for its shoppers.
“When you donate clothes to us, you know that what you give will be going out the very next day,” Jacobs said. “That’s a great feeling.”