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Clothing drive aids area teens

BY MITCHELL SCHMIDT | DECEMBER 10, 2010 7:10 AM

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Southeast Junior High eighth-grader Eve Small folded the tops, one at a time, and laid them back on the table in a colorful spiral design.

The room was packed with tables and racks full of colorful shirts, coats, and pants Thursday evening. While a large amount of clothing remained, it didn't compare with the mountains of apparel that tower.

The clothing drive, aimed at providing fashionable clothing to teenagers who can't afford it, was the first of its kind hosted by Johnson County's United Action for Youth, and organizers called it a success.

In total, roughly 200 kids received clothing.

"I think it's a really good idea," 13-year-old Eve said. "Everyone deserves clothes."

While clothing drives are nothing new in Iowa City, United Action for Youth volunteer coordinator Mickey Hampton said what made this particular one unique was that articles collected were strictly for those between 12 and 18 years of age. Typically, drives tend to accumulate clothes for younger children and older adults.

Groups of students, occasionally with parents, picked up pieces of clothing, checking for styles, sizes, and if they matched other selections.

Discussion of such a drive been in the works for a few months after members of United Action for Youth had heard of stories of teens not having clothes to wear or not going to school because of a lack of apparel, Hampton said.

United Action for Youth Development Director Kate Moreland said the need for clothing has also been on the rise.

"It's definitely what we're seeing as a pattern," she said, adding this could be because of the poor economy or increased outreach by the organization.

Hampton said teenagers tend to be a little more "selective" on what they will wear, making the drive even more effective.

"Kids give each other a hard time about what they wear and what they don't," she said. "So it was kind of our hope that we could attract some really good donations and offer some really good quality clothes that they could have to choose from."

Eve, knowing firsthand, agreed.

"Sometimes in school, if you don't wear the right clothes, it's really hard to survive socially," she said. "You can be excluded from a group for not dressing right."

And Iowa City's college-town atmosphere, rich with young adults, lends perfectly to such a clothing drive, because many good-quality and some even name-brand clothing was donated, Hampton said.

The local UI greek community also provided support, with many members donating clothing, or in UI junior and Chi Omega member Alyssa Orosz's case, encouraging and picking up donations.

"It's just a simple thing that we can do and we are privileged enough to be able to do it," she said.

Hampton said she hopes to make the event an annual or biannual occurrence, and officials have made plans to hold another collection in May.

Moreland said that as long as kids are in need of clothes, United Action for Youth will try to help.

"These kids are not asking for an iPod, they're asking for clothes and coats," she said.


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