Spring Cleaning

Today’s blog post comes from Victoria Infinger, our communications intern. When I think about spring cleaning, I think about throwing my scarves, sweaters and boots into a large rubber tub and pulling out last year’s pastel dresses and bathing suits. I wouldn’t give a second thought as to where to put my winter clothes. Easy breezy.

But what about the children whose clothes are donated? What about the children who need help with spring cleaning and have no idea what to do with their winter clothes?

Let’s take a step back and imagine this scenario:

You have a closet full of clothes – a mixture of sweet summer wear and bulky winter apparel. You’re fourteen years old and your body is growing, so maybe you’ve outgrown about 60% of the clothes in your closet. Now that you’ve pushed through your winter sweaters and thrown aside the clothes that no longer fit, you feel distraught. What’s left in your closet for you to wear?

The other day, two of our volunteers organized one room of closets. The room belonged to a group of younger, growing girls who were absolutely delighted to clean out their closets.

“I started thinking about cleaning/switching out closets when I was helping my own two girls over Spring Break,” said Chris Cerra, one of our lovely volunteers. “If I was pulling my hair out working with two closets, how in the world would the house parents be able to manage 20 closets? It was a practical way that my friend, Ruffin and I could help Palmetto Place.”

Chris and Ruffin checked to see what all still fit the girls in the room, packed up all their winter clothes and moved in some summer clothes. It was such a little thing they did that most people do every year, yet it was so big for these girls.

“They [the girls] got so excited when we would pull something out that fit them,” Chris said. “It didn't matter that is was older and had belonged to someone else, they were just grateful it was ‘new’ to them.”

Putting the cherry on the cake of this sweet story, Chris decided to bring the girls back new outfits from Target including shorts and a few coordinating shirts.

“When I gave each of them their bag, they started screaming and jumping up and down. I was struck by how something so simple meant so much to them,” Chris said.

We all take such small things for granted. Spring time, a time for cleaning, organizing and shopping for new summer outfits, might seem ordinary to us, but extraordinary to those who don’t have the same opportunities as us.

This time of year, children at the shelter are left with questions like, “What do I do with these clothes that no longer fit?” “Where do I leave my winter clothes when it’s no longer winter?” We organize our own closets at home, so why wouldn’t we organize the closets of our shelter children?

Our volunteers are spectacular. We are so thankful to have volunteers willing to make such little things bigger than life for our kids.