Scores of kids in Winlock and throughout Lewis County will have the chance to get ready for school at the third annual giveaway sponsored by the Our Closet is Your Closet clothing bank.
The event, scheduled for Aug. 22 from 5p.m. to 8 p.m., will offer free clothing, coats, socks, underwear and toiletries for every student who shows up. Free haircuts and dinner will also be provided. The clothing bank is located at the Winlock Assembly of God on 702 SE 1st Street.
Holly Orbino, a co-founder of the clothing bank, said it launched about two years ago when she and friend RyLee Camps saw a chance to make a difference.
“She works at a daycare and I work at a middle school,” she said. “We noticed a need. When you’re around kids a lot, you notice their shoes have the soles falling off. You just notice those kinds of things.”
Using their connections in the community, the pair found that the church would be willing to provide space for Our Closet is Your Closet. The clothing bank’s grand opening was the first back-to-school event, which drew several dozen students. Last year, it grew to 150 attendees. Organizers are prepared for an even larger turnout this year, and more than 20 volunteers have signed on to help.
“We had at least one kid from every Lewis County school district last year,” Orbino said. “They appreciate it so much. They can walk in here and be independent and shop. We don’t ask questions. You don’t realize how many people can’t do that, because they don’t have the money. … Up here they can independently shop and meet a need at the same time.”
Orbino said the community response has made the event a success.
“If you go to local people and just ask them, they’ll help,” she said. “It’s hectic and crazy, but so rewarding. Knowing that you’ve helped people is awesome. We’ve had teachers step up from the school, people from the church. Everyone I’ve asked, they’ve said yes.”
The turnout at last year’s event came as a surprise, and volunteers had to double down to make sure each student was served. Orbino said that made the event rewarding.
“Oh my gosh, we were floored,” she said. “It was crazy. It was awesome though. We got through every haircut. As far as we know, everyone got what they needed.”
In addition to the giveaway event, the clothing bank is open for three hours every Saturday. Orbino said it gets about 200 users a month. It’s run entirely on donations and volunteer labor.
For more information, go to www.facebook.com/ourclosetisyourcloset/.