WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. – From the outside, Kids’ Kloset, the White Plains-based volunteer organization that provides resources for struggling families, looks like a modest operation, wedged between a loading dock and tutor center.
Yet, after a small trip down the winding stairs that lead to its headquarters, one is immersed in a sea of plastic bins overflowing with a rainbow of clothes in all sizes, ready to be sent out to Westchester families in need.
Volunteers at Kids’ Kloset, which was founded by New Rochelle native Stephanie Roth nearly three years ago, collect donations from the community, and put together packages that include books, bedding, a week’s worth of specific clothing and other necessities that are delivered to families that are financially strapped or displaced because of a fire or other disaster.
Roth and her loyal band of 25 “dedicated” volunteers put together the packages, which are then delivered to families through social workers and other outreach programs. In all, Kids’ Kloset has put together more than 5,000 packages that have helped 4,000 children of all ages.
“We look at them as if they are our own kids, but there should be a certain disconnect,” Roth said. “When I started this vision, I hoped to help a few hundred kids. I never imagined we could help thousands.”
Kids’ Kloset started from meager roots, after Roth, then volunteering as an adult tutor, put out a Facebook request for one of her students who needed a stroller. The next day there were four in her yard. Soon, she was the “Facebook lady in the minivan.”
“It all blossomed from there. Soon we had more and more volunteers and we were able to get this space, which was donated to us by Roy Stillman,” Roth added.
Today, Kids’ Kloset is a well-oiled machine, with large bins lining every wall, labeled by age, gender and type of clothing. There are countless packages already made, waiting to be picked up, and in the back, there are shelves upon shelves of blue jeans, boots, sneakers, belts, and anything a child would need to feel confident when they get on the school bus.
“There are a lot of underprivileged kids in our communities, and [Kids’ Kloset] provides a lifeline for us,” a social worker making a pick-up, said. “Kids are able to go to school presentable. Sometimes they are in a situation where it’s difficult to buy new clothes, or sometimes to wash them for even a month.”
Elly Zabb, who volunteers several times each week, said that the organization only accepts clean clothes that are in good condition. Anything stained, torn or in poor quality will not be sent out in packages.
“It helps their self-esteem if they can go to school and look like everyone else in their class,” she said. “We don’t want them to feel like they are wearing second-class clothing.”
Donations can be made at Kids’ Kloset at 170 East Post Road in White Plains, or by calling (914) 831-7616.