Clothes to Kids Denver, Inc. helps to provide new and quality used clothing to school-age students from low-income or in-crisis families. The RK Foundation (RKF) has gotten on board in supporting their efforts by fabricating 12 clothing collection bins through the RK sheet metal shop. The bins were placed in Denver Public Schools (DPS) in October for donated clothing. RKF has committed to expand the program further over the next four years. Bin sites include DPS Headquarters, Bill Roberts, Emily Griffith, Hamilton Middle School, Hill Middle School, Holm Elementary, McAuliffe International School, Steck Elementary, and Swigert International School.
After the items are donated, they are picked up, sorted and washed by volunteers, who then help students “shop” for clothes. Founded in 2002, Clothes to Kids seeks to fill the gap that inadequate clothing makes. Research has shown that students who come to school without proper clothing experience low self-esteem, poor social skills, and lack of concentration in class. There are roughly 55,000 students in the DPS system who are in need of better clothing.
Clothes to Kids has a store they run and a family must make an appointment to “shop” at it. Students select a week’s worth of clothing, including five shirts, four pants, one dress (optional), one coat, one pair of shoes, and five pairs of new underwear and socks. Parents are welcome to shop with or without their children. Qualifying students must live in the Denver Metro Area, they must be in preschool-12 grade (or working towards earning their GED), the family must be considered in need of assistance (the student must be receiving free or reduced lunch at school), and they must also be receiving services from a social service agency, school or counseling center.
The partnership between RKF and DPS came about through Hamilton Middle Schooler, Marko Babiak, who “envisioned a program that would create an opportunity for DPS students to help other students in their community”. While in 5th grade, Babiak set up a bin at his school to collect clothing and shoes. The effort was a big success and he helped expand the program and approached RKF to be a sponsor. The collaboration will help to provide school clothing to thousands of students currently in need. Since 2008, Clothes to Kids Denver has provided more than 19,000 wardrobes to students.