Tonawanda News — Maybe it’s a kindergartner trudging to school in the snow in only a T-shirt, no winter boots and holes in his socks.
Maybe it’s a 9-year-old at a new school, embarrassed of her threadbare and too-thin clothing.
Or maybe it’s a high school junior, studying for exams, trying to make sparse supplies stretch to the end of the school year.
Volunteers at the Ken-Ton Closet want to help them all.
Jill O’Malley of Kenmore, the director of the Ken-Ton Closet, a community initiative to collect donated clothing and other items and distribute them to children of the school district, said it all started as she made rounds of the schools for the Ken-Ton Parent Association.
“When I started going around to the schools to introduce our group, just sitting and listening to the PTA meetings, I really got a feel that there was a huge diversity of need in the district,” said O’Malley, who is also the director of the KTPA. “The thing that got me started ... I was at a PTA meeting. Lindbergh (Elementary School) collects jackets. They do a wonderful job of it.
“I asked, ‘Where do the jackets go if they don’t need them?’ Well, they donate them to Buffalo. I said, ‘Don’t we have kids here who need them?’ “
Once the idea for the project was started, it grew quickly. On Jan. 15, the plan was formally submitted to the Town of Tonawanda; on Jan. 24, volunteers received permission to proceed with it. O’Malley will also make presentations at the Village of Kenmore meeting Tuesday and the Town of Tonawanda board meeting Feb. 25.
“Everyone has been incredibly receptive. I can’t tell you the outpouring of support,” she said. “It’s nice because it’s a lot of different entities coming together to make this project happen. Because our district is so diverse, people don’t even think about this happening in our district. It makes my heart bleed. Why are we not taking care of our own?”