The Caring Heart Closet provides clothes for children

Published 1:46 pm Thursday, July 27, 2017

By JOYANNA LOVE/ Senior Staff Writer

A new option for parents struggling to buy clothes for their children is available in Clanton.

Sherri Dawson has started The Caring Heart Closet to provide free children’s clothing and bedding for anyone in need.

The closet is open 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday or parents can call to 755-5065

arrange appointment at other times. They also have a Facebook page.

Dawson has been giving away clothes to parents for a year, but has found a permanent home for the project in a shed at her daycare. She said it is “sponsored by We Care Daycare showing the community that we really do care.”

There are no paperwork requirements.

Daycare staff are available to help families find the needed sizes

“If they don’t find immediately what they need, then we take their name and the sizes that they are looking for and the gender, and we will see if we have anything in one of our other stock piles,” Dawson said.

Sizes range from infant to 42 in men’s clothing and 2X in women’s clothing.

“Not all teens are junior sizes, some of them are adult sizes,” Dawson said.

The need for such a closet was highlighted by her own experiences with children in foster care.

Seven of Dawson’s grandchildren were permanently placed with her through the foster care system.

“Most kids when they come in to foster care, they come with nothing,” Dawson said.

She said foster parents may not have money to buy children a whole wardrobe “or toys to help them feel safe.”

“Even used at the thrift store is expensive when you have to clothe two or three kids,” Dawson said.

While Dawson has a heart for foster children, the closet is open to any family needing clothes for their children.

She said she has seen numerous posts on Facebook of parents trying to find inexpensive clothes for their children in an emergency situation.

The Caring Heart Closet’s setup allows children to choose clothes for themselves.

“The kids really need to be able to come ‘shop’ for themselves, especially the teens and the pre-teens,” Dawson said.

She said being a teenager is hard enough without being taken from one’s home, so if they can choose their own clothes “just like they would at a store, I think it makes a difference.”

Dawson’s project was jumpstarted by Lori and Justin Barker when they lived in Shelby County.

“The Barkers were true foster parents. They took in 63 kids in … three years. They inspired me because they started setting up something in a basement of a house,” Dawson said.

Their inventory was given to Dawson when the family moved.

For those interested in donating, the closet is especially looking for more junior and adult sizes.

Dawson hopes the closet will one day expand to include other baby essentials such as cribs. For this to happen, The Caring Heart Closet would need to purchase another shed.

The Caring Heart Closet is located at 501 Little John Road in Clanton.