Tonawanda News

Opinion

August 29, 2013

KEPPELER: Help the Ken-Ton Closet find its silver lining

Tonawanda News — The photos could break your heart.

Brightly colored bins, now empty, labeled “crayons” and “markers” and “colored pencils.” Barren shelves. Piles of clothing strewn across the floor every which way.

Barely one week before the start of school, the Ken-Ton Closet — an organization dedicated to providing clothing, toiletries and school supplies to children in need in the Ken-Ton community — is coping with a break-in at its site at the Sheridan-Parkside Community Center that resulted in the loss of much of its school-supply collection and many of the toiletries.

Jill O’Malley of Kenmore, the director of the Closet, said that someone broke into the room at some point between Thursday and Tuesday, a catastrophe discovered when volunteers arriving Tuesday thought there had been an open house and called her about the disarray and dearth of needed school supplies.

There had been no recent open house. O’Malley went to survey the scene and found a heart-breaking mess, with many supplies gone and donated clothing pulled off racks and boxes dumped on the floor.

“I don’t know what they were looking for. I’m sure they also took clothing, but we don’t really track that,” she said. “It kills me. Just come. You can get it for free.”

Only about 10 of the original 50 brand-new backpacks remain. The only other school supplies salvaged include a donation that was safely at O’Malley’s house, which will help the group assist some students. However, with district schools opening Sept. 5, there are likely to be more requests on the way.

"I have enough supplies on hand to fulfill some requests,” O’Malley said, “but I don’t know what will come in in the next week or so.”

While the school supplies are mostly inexpensive items such as crayons and pencils, they may be more difficult to replace now that the beginning of school is imminent and store shelves are borderline wiped out of stock.

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