Clothes shopping for little ones is often not easy, quick or cheap. But it was at least two of those things — quick and cheap — for many families at the sixth-annual Kids’ Closet event at Belle Terre Elementary School Friday, where within half an hour parents had largely bought up, for just $0.25 cents each, the vast bulk of thousands of items of donated kids clothes.
“I’ve never seen in all of my years of doing this the number of people that came in when I opened the door,” said event coordinator and Belle Terre Elementary second-grade teacher Agatha Lee. “This is a first. Truly, it’s never looked like this. I was shocked. Completely shocked.”
The line to enter the building had stretched out the cafeteria and along the covered walkway linking it to the parking lot. Parents and kids rushed to grab what appealed to them, sorting the keepers from the discards later.
“That’s the name of the game — bag as quickly as you can, then look later,” said Lynette Emerson, who attended with family.
Her great-nieces “had a great time looking for things,” she said. “I think it’s an awesome thing for the school to do. I just know if we come again we’ll try to get here a little early,” she said.
Palm Coast mom Lisa Reilly came with her three children, all Belle Terre Elementary School students.
“It’s a good way to get together in the community and to give back,” she said. “I came out to possibly get some clothing for my children, to help support the event. Also, I donated a lot of clothing, and I’m glad to see only three pieces left from the bags I donated.”
Many families stocked up, Lee said. About 10 families came out with more than 50 articles of clothing, and a few bought more than 100. One mom bought 140 items. Altogether, the event sold about 3,360 articles of clothing.
Lee started the event six years ago, and has watched attendance balloon. In 2009, Kids’ Closet raised $325. This year, it raised $840, which was donated to the American Cancer Society.
Lee came up with the idea of Kids’ Closet after seeing her own children’s closets fill up with lightly-worn clothes that weren’t being used. “I have three children myself, and you accumulate all of these clothes,” she said. And so many local parents could use them.
So she began the event, recruiting fellow teachers and school staff members as volunteers. This year, about 20 helped sort clothes by gender and size, and six, including Belle Terre Vice Principal Barry Wills, staffed checkout tables.
This was the first year the event basically sold out its items, Lee said. She plans to continue the event in the future.
“I keep doing it because of all the comments the families make.” Years ago, she said, one mother with five foster children came up to her and said, “Thank you, because now I can give my kids clothes for Christmas.”
And she loves seeing the smaller children walk up and proudly pay for their purchases.
“The girls will come in with their little purses, and say, ‘Here’s a dollar fifty,’” she said. “People are struggling right now. It’s what they need for their families.”