Salvation Army seeks clothes for children, babies
Putting out a call on behalf of babies is Helen O’Rourke McClary, also known as the “Matlacha Doll Lady.” McClary, a long-time volunteer for the Salvation Army, is asking residents to contribute to a worthy cause this holiday season.
“Many of the women who flee to the safety of the Salvation Army Battered Women’s Shelter leave their homes in such a hurry that they are unable to bring many items with them, including clothing for their children. One of the ways that we can make the stay at the shelter a little more comforting is by providing clean clothes for the babies and small children,” said McClary. “It is my hope that the Matlacha Hookers, along with other groups and individuals, will come forward and contribute gently used or new clothes sized for children age 5 and under to help ease what can be a difficult time for these mothers and their children.”
Serving as a drop-off location for the children’s clothing items will be Traders Hitching Post in Matlacha.
According to Cindee Tolliver of Traders, donations of other items have been slow to come in to support the Salvation Army this year as well.
“Every year, members of the Matlacha Hookers drop off filled Christmas stockings at my shop to be distributed by the Salvation Army to area under-privileged children. This year, those donations are considerably less and I have to believe it is because of the current economic conditions, but donations of gently used baby clothes can be done at little or no cost to those who would like to contribute,” Tolliver said. “We are asking that area moms go through the closet and pull out anything that their children have outgrown that is still in good condition to help the children who are spending their holiday in the shelter.”
Also collecting clothing for children is the Pine Island Community Church office located in the Century 21 building just south of the island center.
“I am honored to participate in this program. I know that many of these mothers and their children come to the shelter with nothing but the clothes on their back and I am more than happy to do my share to help out,” said Pastor Heidi Grueser. “When I adopted my daughter, Charley Sue, all of the children in the home had a limited amount of clothing that had been donated by the community. Since that time, we now have a large pile of clothes that Charley Sue has outgrown and now I will be happy to pass them along to a child spending the holidays at the shelter.”
According to McClary the Christmas Cheer program at the Salvation Army has been hard hit this season as well and the need is greater this year then in years past. McClary said that the Salvation Army is seeing a record number of applicants and currently has more than 44 percent more requests than last year. She said, of those who have registered, more than 50 percent are new applicants.
“In order to come to the aid of these families, a greater number of volunteers are also needed,” said McClary. “Support can be provided in many ways. During the holiday season, perhaps most visible are our bell ringers who collect donations in front of area stores, but we also need folks to collect donations of toys, stocking stuffers, books, as well as food donations and gift cards for families in need.”
Toys and food will be distributed to an average of 450 families per day by volunteers with the Salvation Army.
For more information about contributing new or gently used clothes for children, call Traders Hitching Post at 283-4040 or the Pine Island Community Church office at 283-7518.