Program aims to help buy 1,300 kids warm clothes

Posted at 7:43 AM, Oct 04, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-04 07:43:49-04

I followed Robin Williams around Meijer as she tried to buy winter clothes for her 5 young children. The three-year-old kept wandering off. Sometimes the baby wined to get out of the cart. Nothing was cool enough for the pre-teen.

And that wasn't even the hardest part.

Williams, like many parents in Jackson, says she can't afford to buy new warm clothes and coats for her kids every year. "My three year old, all his clothes are going down to him, so he's OK, these two, no, they can't, they can't fit anything they had last year," she says of hand-me-downs, and the trouble with kids who won't stop growing.

"We moved here after I was in an abusive relationship, just kind of dropped everything," she said.

It's parents like her who are benefiting from Warm the Children, an event put on by the Community Action Agency, that gives parents $80 per child to buy new winter clothes.

"I'm happy that there is a program out here where kids can get the things they need because it's cold and it's just going to get colder and I don't want my kids to be sick or get frostbite or land in the hospital because I couldn't properly dress them for the winter," Williams said.

Kate Lambert Lee works for the Community Action Agency, and says 1,300 children applied for the help, the most applications they have had since 1998. "It's all based on community donations, so, at this point, we have a need that's greater than what we can fill at this time," Lee said. A hundred percent of the donations go to the children, she said, not to administrative costs.

"We had kids that were shopping in November, that were coming in in rain slickers," Lee said. "They were wearing their new warm coats out."

It truly takes a village to raise a child, Williams said, and, when she can, she always tries to help out others. "We all have to just stick together and be a community and support each other," she said.

The Community Action Agency is currently taking donations for the program.

There are three more shopping dates at Meijer stores in Jackson scheduled over the next two weeks:

Wednesday, October 5 10 a.m.- 1 a.m. at 56 E Michigan Ave
Monday, October 10 10 a.m. - 1 p.m. at 30 Airport Rd
Wednesday, October 12 5-8 p.m. at 56 E Michigan Ave