What is Kids In Need?
Through Kids In Need (KIN), we provide a new uniform to students at seven local Title I schools. The uniform package includes a pair of khaki pants, a sweatshirt, a polo shirt, socks, underwear and a bag of toiletries. The toiletries include shampoo, conditioner, a toothbrush, toothpaste and soap. Assistance League of the Chesapeake purchases the clothing with funds donated by our members, the community and grants. Our members, their dentists, and some community members donate the toiletries. In the winter, we collect and distribute hats and gloves along with the uniforms. These are donated by our members and their friends.
How Did KIN Get Started?
We started KIN in the 2003-04 school year with donations of regular clothing for students. In 2006-07, we gave sneakers to every student at Georgetown East Elementary School. Then, in 2008, when Georgetown East shifted to uniforms, we did, too.
During 2008-09, we gave 200 uniform packages to 200 students. We’ve grown a lot since then. During the 2019-20 school year, we gave 3,508 uniform packages to 2,643 students.
When we began the program, we focused on Georgetown East and Meade Heights because that was where we had a heavy volunteer presence with our literacy program. Also, there was great need at these two schools. In 2011, ready to add another school, two of our members, Valerie Rees and Marie Bossie, met with Teresa Tudor, who worked for the Board of Education at the time. Teresa was the liaison for community partnerships, and she identified several schools in need. We then met with the principals at the schools and chose the school we felt we could serve best. After that, Teresa took the lead in identifying the next neediest school as we became able to serve more schools and students.
How Did We Know What Was Needed?
We worked with the individual counselors and principals at each school to identify what was needed and which students were in greatest need. Working closely with them over the years was how we added sweatshirts, socks, underwear, toiletries, hats and gloves to our uniform packages.
Why is KIN so Important?
We understand that many families find it difficult to make ends meet. The children we serve are often living in challenging environments, live in shelters or have families that simply need some kind of financial assistance. One way we can alleviate some of their burden is to provide the clothing that the children need for school. The uniforms are great because they put all the children on a level playing field regarding their clothing. No one stands out. Our KIN chair, Marie Bossie, and her committee work tirelessly to get the best prices and quality and we make sure to buy sturdy items that can be handed down among family members.
Assistance League of the Chesapeake is pleased that we were able to cultivate relationships with our community’s school principals and counselors. Through them, we’ve been able to provide books, clothing and classroom help to children in our neighborhood.