When local elementary students face a clothing emergency at school, the Findlay Kiwanis provides help. Five years ago, the service organization installed Kiwanis Closets in all 18 Hancock County elementary schools, large wooden armoires fully stocked with new clothing items such as underwear, socks, pants, t-shirts, sweatshirts, hats and gloves, in a range of sizes. “The Kiwanis Closet is there for any child who needs it, no matter the reason,” says Anne Stapley, who launched the project as the Findlay Kiwanis president in 2014. “When a student needs an item from the closet, it is theirs to keep,” she adds.
Rick Kidwell, a retired teacher and Findlay Kiwanis member, came up with the idea for the closets. He knew local teachers saw a range of needs with children coming to school with dirty clothes, attire that was not appropriate for the weather, children with bathroom accidents or major spills. Parents often aren’t able to bring fresh clothing and many teachers were spending their own money and time shopping garage sales and gathering hand-me-downs to have clothing items available for students. One hundred percent of donations to Kiwanis Closets goes toward purchasing items for the closets.