One Hope United Pilots Free Clothing Store for Children in Foster Care
Lake Villa, Ill. (Jan. 27, 2023)–One Hope United launched its first “Hope Closet” event on Dec. 28 at boy’s residential campus, Ermit L. Finch Campus at Lake Villa. Clothes, shoes, and winter wear were donated to the organization by Indiana nonprofit, Cross Border Partners.
The private pop-up event gave the young boys in foster care a free shopping experience including a personal shopper to help find items among the hundreds of options that fit the boy’s personal tastes. Many of the volunteers at the “Hope Closet” pop-up event were actually board members, including one of One Hope United’s newest, Jeremy Harvey.
Harvey, a State and Territory Liaison at ICF, joined the nonprofit’s board in 2022, becoming the second former One Hope United foster child to join the organization’s Board of Directors.
“I’ve had the feeling many other youth in foster care have of being unworthy or unwanted. If a small thing I can do is to gather clothes, donate them back to One Hope United so that we have a closet of hope so that young people feel worthy of healing, growth, and development… it’s just one little thing I can do,” Harvey said.
There are no statistics on how many children enter foster care with only the clothing they are wearing, but it is a common reality reported by foster parents and foster care organizations. With clothing stipends in Illinois under $80 a month and the rising costs of goods, the clothing stipend often only covers a single new outfit.
“This event is the epitome of what is at the core of OHU – a deep commitment to be responsible and to advocate for those in our care. Volunteers, staff, and our nonprofit partner selflessly showed up to support the children we serve. We couldn’t be more grateful,” said Dr. Damon Cates, Chief Advancement Officer at One Hope United.
Harvey’s involvement in the “Hope Closet” project was spurred after attending fellow board member, Cindy Miller-Lusignan’s, annual fundraising event and hearing about One Hope United’s need for clothing. Harvey turned to his own network on social media and asked friends, colleagues, and family to donate shirts, pants, suits, and shoes to the organization, even offering to collect donations personally.
“I’ve had this experience. I know what this feels like. I knew I had to do something. I’m not rich so I can’t write a check and solve a problem, but I can absolutely reach out to my network and ask ‘Do you have things that you can donate?’ I want to help other young people with these experiences feel seen, feel important,” Harvey said.
Within days, Harvey’s call to action gained momentum online and he was introduced to Cross Border Partners. After learning about the need at One Hope United, Cross Border Partners delivered a 16-foot truck filled with clothing to join the 80 bags of donations Harvey and other board members collected for the girls and boys in foster care.
“Young people need to feel like they’re worthy of healing. When you show up with just the things on your back, in a space full of strangers, and add to that, that this is unlikely to be your first placement… this is probably your 15th, 16th, 17th stop. You’re feeling so many ways. Our Hope Closet is one small step we can make to say you’re worthy! You are worthy of clean, age-appropriate, stylish clothes… We see you,” Harvey said.
Additional “Hope Closet” pop-up events are being scheduled for the foster care programs at One Hope United and the organization continues to accept donations.
“There’s lots of ways folks can give to make an impact for our kids. There’s no gift too big or too small. We’re looking for time, talent, and treasure. Maybe you don’t have any money, but you can volunteer a couple of hours and just spend time with our kids,” Harvey said.
About One Hope United
Founded in 1895, One Hope United is a multi-state nonprofit that helps children and families build the skills to live life without limits. OHU serves over 10,000 children and families each year through education centers, child and family services, counseling, and residential programs. Using evidence-based and trauma-informed practices, OHU empowers children and families to see and create a future where, regardless of their past, they can reach their full potential.
About Cross Border Partners
Cross Border Partners is a 501(c)3 nonprofit Christian organization which helps those in need. The organization accepts donations of anything but food. These items are then redistributed to those in need. The organization also offers items for sale that is open to the public. After paying operating expenses, any extra funds are used to purchase items to help the voucher clients.