December 2, 2009

Student starts clothing exchange for homeless kids

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carol_smithwebSo the malls are lit, and Christmas music is piping through the city. But here’s a little story that goes more to the spirit of the holidays.

A high-school freshman in Coeur D’Alene has started a clothing exchange to benefit homeless, and foster kids in her area.

The Spokesman-Review’s Alison Boggs reports on young Emily Carroll’s efforts.

Emily got the idea last year when she realized some kids couldn’t afford cool clothes for school. She wanted to figure out a way to get them some so she put out the word.  And here’s the thing about good ideas (to borrow a phrase) — if you build it, they will come.

Donations of new clothing started rolling in. The largest donor was trendy clothier Aeropostale.

The exchange is now open to kids who are referred there because they are in foster care, homeless or being raised by relatives. The exchange is being hosted by the Project Safe Place, a nonprofit that helps homeless and low-income folks.

No one is suggesting that new clothes will fix the myriad problems facing homeless youth. But any incentive to seek services, or to bring kids in from the streets is a good step.

According to Melinda Giovengo, executive director of YouthCare in Seattle, one in 50 children in the United States are homeless, most as a result of physical or sexual abuse. Seattle’s own census of homeless kids runs about 1,000 a day.

In a recent editorial for the Seattle Times, Giovengo said without services “many of tonight’s homeless youth will plunge into alcohol and substance abuse, crises of mental and physical health and simple despair.” She argues that one dollar spent on a homeless child today saves at least four dollars in the future.

 An effort like Melinda Carroll’s is a small step in that direction.

And here’s another thing they say about good ideas. You can clone them.

 

— Carol Smith

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