Boxes of Basics donates clothing to local children throughout the year | News | Popgen Tech
Tis the season not only for gifts, but also for time and support for the community. Donating is a year-round activity for Boxes of Basics, a new Manassas-area nonprofit focused on providing local children with a full seasonal wardrobe of good, quality clothing.
Founder and CEO Sarah Tyndall from Bristow opened Boxes of Basics in her basement in 2018. The organization has since moved to a home in Old Town Manassas, where volunteers work daily to donate new and lightly used clothing to individual children. referred by local schools, social services, churches and other trusted third parties.
After the items are collected, volunteers carefully wrap each outfit in white paper and place them in sturdy white boxes.
“When a child receives their box of basics, we want them to feel like they’re opening a present!” Tyndall said.
Boxes of Basics, located at 9323 West St., is easy to spot. in Old Town Manassas. It’s a white house with a flag, a holiday wreath and a porch overflowing with boxes and bags of donated children’s clothes.
Given the layout of the house, it is easy for volunteers to look after the boxes. The space is well organized, with clothing sizes clearly marked and organized by type.
The floors are separated by gender, and one room houses coats, books and dental kits. The kitchen is used to store shoes. Clothes are arranged by size, season and type; all new or in mint condition. Only underwear, socks and shoes should be new.
Volunteers are given a form indicating the age, size and some individual preferences of each child. The boxes are filled with different outfits for school, beautiful events and games. Each child also receives a jacket, shoes, socks and pajamas.
Long tables covered with white paper and colorful labels make packing outfits interesting. After the wardrobes are packed, volunteers add an age-appropriate book and dental kit, as well as a non-religious note with wishes.
In 2021, Boxes of Basics helped 450 children. This year, in mid-December, she donated a thousand to local children.
“The need is so great,” Tyndall says. “We received 80 requests in two days,” she said in early December.
The house is rent-free to Boxes of Basics from Trinity Episcopal Church. Boxes of Basics is not directly affiliated with a church or any religious organization; they do, however, work with churches to provide clothing for children in need.
“We don’t determine a child’s right ourselves,” explained program director Sally Crockett. In order for the child(ren) to qualify, they are referred but never meet with anyone from the nonprofit.
“We absolutely trust our referral partners,” says Crockett, the only paid employee. Otherwise, Boxes of Basics is run by volunteers like Marian Pati, a retired Fairfax County public school teacher.
Patti taught theater at Chantilly High School for 25 years and remembers what it was like when students were bullied for the way they dressed.
“Kids are so mean sometimes,” she said. They notice when other kids “wear the same clothes over and over because they can’t afford anything else.”
Patty said she enjoys putting outfits together in boxes: “It’s like putting the show back together,” she says.
“It’s all about honoring the children,” says Brian Johnson, pastor of Haymarket Church. Johnson helped Tyndall “from the beginning, in her basement,” he said.
Johnson said he immediately liked the concept when Tyndall presented him with the box.
“I was amazed,” he recalled. It’s not just about the clothes – children open a gift and “show that they are loved and respected” when they open the package, he added.
The package is also functional, Tyndall said. “In one case, a single mother with four children lived in the motel. This white box was a child’s chest of drawers.’
The nonprofit has been able to help a variety of families, from refugees to low-income or newly homeless, says Erika Herrera, school social worker at Tyler and Victoria elementary schools. The clothes are high-quality and trendy. They are very nicely wrapped in stickers, and volunteers drop things off at children’s schools, which is very convenient, Herrera noted.
“The clothes match what the other kids are wearing. Even for middle schoolers who just want to fit in,” she added.
Herrera said she receives 20 to 30 boxes a year for her students and usually receives a box within a week of applying for help.
“This is such an incredible resource and blessing to the families I work with. … There is nothing else like it here,” she said. “I can’t tell you how wonderful they are.”
Johnson said he also likes that both the east and west sides of Prince William County are served through Boxes of Basics. The nonprofit also helps children in Manassas and Manassas Park and hopes to serve as a model for other communities.
Corporate partnerships are also being forged, Crockett says, noting that they recently teamed up with Bomba socks.
Those who want to help can visit the Boxes of Basics Facebook page https://boxesofbasics.org/volunteer-opportunities for more information on donations, deliveries, group volunteer opportunities and more. Children ages 10 and up can volunteer with Boxes of Basics as long as their adult is on site under supervision.
Donations are accepted at 9323 West St. in Old Town Manassas and permanent delivery locations throughout the county, including the Haymarket Police Station, Gainesville Pharmacy, Teachables and more.