Tonawanda News

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February 2, 2014

Ken-Ton Closet taking next steps

Ken-Ton Closet celebrates first anniversary with first fundraiser

Tonawanda News — It’s been an interesting year for the Ken-Ton Closet.

Since its start last February, the organization based at the Sheridan-Parkside Community Center has provided dozens of children with needed clothing and school supplies, partnered with many local individuals and groups — and weathered a break-in that decimated its school supplies and other materials, but led to increased security at the site and a huge community response.

As it heads into its second year, however, Closet organizers have their sights set on taking a bigger step, to help even more children in 2014 and beyond.

Jill O’Malley of Kenmore, director of the Ken-Ton Closet, said the organization just started its first official fundraiser, which is being held to raise money to pay the fees necessarily for the Closet to become a full nonprofit. Until now, she said, organizers haven’t asked for money because they were doing OK with community generosity and item donations, but achieving nonprofit status will help the group do even more.

“In our first month, we lost out on two major donations, about $2,000, where the companies required us to be nonprofits,” O’Malley said. She also hopes to work with The John R. Oishei Foundation, which offers grants for organizations such as the Closet, but requires them to be nonprofit.

But first, they have to get there.

“I’m not very good at asking for money,” O’Malley said. “I’m not shy at all aboout asking fof 25 pairs of underwear for kids, but when it comes to asking for $25, I don’t know what to do.”

Lindbergh Elementary School PTA co-president Jennifer Szustakowski has been helping with the new campaign, using experience gained as former vice president in charge of fundraising at the PTA.

“I’m pretty frugal,” she said. “Finding ways to raise money while not spending a real lot is kind of my forte. Really, we’re starting off by asking people who’ve already helped the closet, our friends and families, to just give a couple dollars to help us become a non-profit. 

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