New Rochelle – Two Iona Prep students, John Hyatt and Matt Urbano, put their community service requirement to good use recently when they organized a school and community jeans drive for The Sharing Shelf, a Port Chester-based clothing distribution program run by Family Services of Westchester (FSW). John’s mother, Karen, has volunteered at The Sharing Shelf, sorting and packaging clothing for children, so she told her son about the organization. When John learned that FSW’s Sharing Shelf needed jeans, he and his friend Matt Urbano, launched a drive to collect jeans and raise awareness of the program.
The two friends created flyers for the jeans drive, publicized their efforts on Facebook and sent emails to friends. They set up a bin at their high school located in New Rochelle and also drove to John’s neighbors’ homes in Rye Brook to pick up bags stuffed with clothing. At FSW’s Sharing Shelf, volunteers sort clothing by size and gender and screen the clothing to make sure items are not stained or torn. So John and Matt followed the Sharing Shelf’s approach and sorted and bundled the acceptable donations by size. In total, the boys collected 150 pairs of jeans and sweatpants and an additional 50 shirts and sweatshirts. They loaded the Hyatt’s minivan and delivered all the clothing to The Sharing Shelf’s Port Chester warehouse, helping to shelve the clothes so the jeans could be distributed immediately.
“I knew I could collect jeans from my friends at school and my neighbors, but I was surprised by the amount of clothing people donated,” says John. “It makes me feel good that I am surrounded by nice and caring people.”
“I really like FSW’s Sharing Shelf because when you volunteer or donate clothing, you are helping local people, kids in your own backyard,” notes Karen Hyatt, John’s Mom.
Founded by New Rochelle resident Deborah Blatt and Family Services of Westchester in 2009, The Sharing Shelf collects new and gently used children’s clothing, then distributes the items to more than 1,800 needy children a year, at no cost to the children or their families. Each month, volunteers assemble more than 1,000 outfits for at least 150 children and teens, providing each child a week of seasonally appropriate clothing. Blatt partners with more than 25 agencies, programs, schools and hospitals county-wide to distribute the clothing. To volunteer or make a financial or clothing donation to FSW’s Sharing Shelf, contact Deborah Blatt at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (914) 355-9121.
Family Services of Westchester runs more than 50 mental health and social service programs that reach 30,000 children, teens, adults and families a year. FSW’s programs run the gamut from adoption services to elder care, from home health care to youth residences and include chapters of such national programs as Big Brothers Big Sisters, Head Start and AmeriCorps. The agency’s 450 employees and 350 volunteers operate out of seven offices throughout the county. To learn more about FSW, check out the agency’s website at www.fsw.org.
Contact: Colleen D. Gardephe, email@example.com, (914) 305-6836