Local organization overflowing with supplies helps Wichita area youth

Local

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — An organization is working to help Wichita youth in need, and it’s overflowing with supplies.

Benita Chaplain and Sarah Demby, co-founders of the TOUCH Closet, would have never imagined having too many shoes and coats when they founded the organization in 2016. 

Just four years later, they’ve “Touched Others Until Change Happened” at ten area schools and do not plan to slow down any time soon.

The TOUCH Closet recently received heavy monetary support and the racks at their facility are stuffed. Right now, it has more than 150 pairs of shoes and 85 coats waiting to find new homes. 

“We take great pride and joy and being able to be a resource for those that don’t have,” Demby said. 

The organization provides students who may be in crisis situations with a coat, a pair of shoes, and undergarments.

Staff at one middle school appreciate the assistance. 

“We’re a Title I school, so we have a lot of need here in the school and a lot of students that have parents just need that little extra boost to get them through,” said Ginger Pollock, a Pando Initiative student support advocate. “Maybe they’re planning on getting their kids some shoes as soon as they can, but they just can’t afford it right now.” 

Felicia Barnes and her family lost nearly everything in a fire in December. She said her house caught fire five days after Christmas and most of the home was water, fire, or smoke damaged. One of Barnes’ kids goes to a school where Pollock with the Panto Initiative works. After hearing about the fire, Pollock connected her to the closet that quickly helped replace items that were lost in the fire. 

“I swear it was hours later that [Pollock] was at my friend’s house dropping shoes and coats off to us with options,” Barnes said. 

As parents, Chaplain and Demby empathize with parents who may not be able to provide for their children—no matter the situation.

“As a parent, when you can’t get your kids shoes, coats, undergarments,” Chaplain said. “That’s a horrible feeling to have to watch your kid lace-up tattered shoes. That’s a horrible feeling to have.” 

Barnes said she is grateful for the support.  

“I don’t have a whole bunch of support,” Barnes said. “At least I didn’t think that I did, and knowing that if something tragic does happen, people in your community will come together to help strangers.” 

If you’re interested in donating to the TOUCH Closet, visit their website here. The Barnes family is asking for donations to rebuild their home and has a GoFund Me set up here

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