HELPING KIDS IN NEED
DRACUT -- Paula Bailey processed donated clothes in Catie’s Closet’s distribution center on School Street in Dracut last Friday, looking over colorful tops and hanging each on garment racks.
Nearby were piles of clothes in large plastic bags that had yet to be sorted. The clothes, as well as toiletries, are destined for public schools where disadvantaged students could seek them out if they wish.
This August, Catie’s Closet is focused on collecting even more donated items through its 3rd annual Fill the Bus event. As the organization’s largest clothing and toiletry drive of the year, the event places buses across Massachusetts and New Hampshire to collect donations through company and community-sponsored drives.
According to Mickey Cockrell, executive director of Catie’s Closet, the program aims to improve attendance and graduation rates among disadvantaged students. She said she wants these students to “go to school, stay in school, and feel valued in school.”
“When kids don’t have what they need, they may have low self-esteem and could be a target of bullying,” Cockrell said.
Catie’s Closet can be currently found in more than 60 schools across the state and New Hampshire and, according to director of operations, Denise Trombly, that number is expected to grow.
“Fill the Bus is our opportunity every single year for people to number one, get to know who we are and also to be able to fill our shelves so that we can fill all the schools,” Trombly said.
There are multiple ways in which people can get involved in Fill the Bus, according to Cockrell. First, companies, businesses, and communities can help run clothing drives through collection boxes provided by Catie’s Closet.
Companies can also sponsor an event during which a yellow bus will be sent to their parking lots to collect donations. According to the Catie’s Closet website: $5,000 will bring a yellow school bus to one’s workplace and sponsor an existing closet for the school year; $2,000 will bring a yellow school bus to one’s workplace; and $500 will go towards supporting a new closet.
Trombly said there is currently a big need for boy youth bottoms and for children’s clothes.
Katie Pelleriti, 27, of Lowell, stopped by Friday to donate two bags filled with clothes for middle school aged girls.
“I’m a teacher in Lowell... I see everyday that kids need clothes,” she said. “I know how much of a need there is for things like Catie’s Closet.”
Anyone interested in contributing to the month-long Fill the Bus can visit www.catiescloset.org .