Clothe-A-Child has been clothing children in need in Lake County for over 30 years | Popgen Tech
For more than 35 years in Lake and Gaga counties, Dress Up a Baby has provided shopping opportunities for children in need of new warm clothes.
Using JCPenney at Great Lakes Mall, children ages 5 to 12 can spend $200 on new clothes, shoes and coats between September and December.
“They do get quite a lot of stuff. It can’t be used on jewelry, toys or food, so it’s all on clothing,” said Carol Nicolai, who is in her first year as the program’s coordinator.
In order to qualify for the program, families must fill out an application and provide several pieces of information, whether it’s an income tax return or proof of receipt of any government assistance, such as food stamps, Social Security benefits or Medicaid .
“Once we receive all of these, review them and determine their suitability, then we will set a purchase date,” Nikolai said. “In years past, the idea was that we would have volunteer shoppers shop with their child so that the parent would not have to shop. That was the principle that lay in everything.”
Because of the pandemic, that has changed, Nikolai said. As a result, parents have been shopping with their children for the past two years. This year they were given the opportunity to volunteer or shop with their children.
“We bought the Lake Erie College women’s basketball team last week and shopped for 14 kids that night. It was a lot of fun,” she said.
“We had a combination of both,” Nikolai said. “It turned out well. There were quite a few people who wanted volunteer buyers, and a really big part of that program is our volunteers. They are the heart and backbone of this program because they fill all the positions we need.”
In addition to being needed as shoppers, volunteers also serve as table coordinators where families check in. Volunteers are also needed for field trips.
“None of the clothes are returnable,” said Nikolai. “We have to cut out all the tags and stuff, and I need people to do that. Some of them have been volunteering for 20-25 years. They were wonderful people.
“We have over 50 volunteers throughout the year and I can’t stress enough how important they are,” she added. “They give their time, and if we didn’t have them, we wouldn’t be able to run the program.”
Applications will be available in August.
“We have them in most of the Lake County and Gaugha County libraries, as well as Job and Family Services, so parents can access the programs,” Nicolai said.
This year, 350 children will be served, she said.
“It’s a very rewarding program,” she said. “The kids are so excited to see all the new clothes they get. It’s good for volunteer buyers because they’re having fun with the kids and it’s important to see them put a smile on their face.”
Clothe-A-Child is funded by donations. Donations can be made at news-herald.com/clothe-a-child or mailed to The News-Herald, 7085 Mentor Ave., Willoughby, OH 44094. Checks can be made payable to Clothe-a-Child. For other questions or volunteer opportunities, email email@example.com.