In 2013 one little nonprofit with a big heart in Wake County provided clothing to over 1550 people. Most of those people were children. In fact over 28,000 donated gently used or new clothing and shoes valued at over $140,000 was delivered by this ambitious nonprofit.
Last school year 48,881 students in Wake County applied and qualified for Free or Reduced priced lunch.
Note in the Pocket’s Executive Director, Dallas Bonavita, surmises, “There is an undeniable parallel that families that struggle to feed their children also struggle to provide basic clothing needs.”
This is where a little love and the hands & time of many dedicated volunteers come together to achieve Note in the Pocket’s Mission:
To provide clothing to impoverished and homeless children in Wake County. Note In The Pocket believes that it is unacceptable that children are limited in their educational and social development because they do not have appropriate clothes for school. Through our partnerships with schools, agencies, individuals, businesses and foundations, we clothe children with dignity and love.
Note in the Pocket: Working to Help Families in Need
One of the best kept secrets in Wake County is that children miss school due to a lack of clothing. Examples of children we have provided for include the brothers who took turns going to school depending on whose turn it was to wear the one pair of shoes they shared.
Or the middle school girl who missed the entire first week of school because her mother said she literally didn’t have anything to wear. Or the children wearing clothes far too large or far too small because that is all they have. The consequences to NOT helping these kids are that they suffer socially, emotionally and educationally.Seasons change and children grow. Families with limited resources can only stretch a dollar so far.
A Little Love Goes a Long Way…
The organization that is now known as Note in the Pocket (NITP) began in September 2005 as a one-family effort to supply the winter clothing needs of one kindergarten class (to which the family had a personal connection) at an impoverished K–5 school where the percentage of free-and-reduced lunch students hovered around 90%.
The program expanded with participation of neighbors and friends the following year, when all the kindergarten classes in the school received coats, scarves, and mittens for the students. Word of mouth and active recruitment of additional participants eventually led to an annual school-wide coat distribution.
..in the goodness of people to help others…
Over the years, various individuals continued to invite participation in their respective neighborhoods, civic groups, and churches. By September 2011, the incoming donations included clothing for all seasons and all sizes, preschool through adult, and outgoing donations were made on an ad hoc basis as specific needs became known. The program was operated informally out of the founder’s home until Spring 2012, by which time the space limitation had been reached.
The project became an official ministry of Our Lady of Lourdes Church in June 2012 with the name Note in the Pocket. NITP is now incorporated and is a registered 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization.
Founder, Susan Reiland, believes in, “…the goodness of people to help others in need and that everyone can make a difference. [She encourages] people to do whatever, whenever, however you can to help others.” I believe Susan’s heart is made of gold.
Susan encourages everyone to:
Volunteer on your own or with a group, and follow your passion. The smallest efforts will be magnified and have a profoundly positive effect on both the community and the volunteer.
I recently took a tour of NITP’s Volunteer Center and spent a couple hours volunteering to sort, label, and shelve donations with fellow Activate Good volunteers. This time flew by. I certainly had some fun.
I was fortunate to be able to shelve clothing alongside Susan, and I also had the pleasure of volunteering with Michele Boyce, NITP’s Operations Director, joyously leading the charge. She is another prime example of a dedicated volunteer. I asked her to tell me more about how volunteers make an impact there. She concurs with Dallas & Susan and states:
I know it sounds like a cliché, but if it were not for our volunteers we could not do what we do today! It started as a family project and grew from there and now our volunteers are what help to make Note in the Pocket.
Everything from coming to the volunteer center to sort clothing to delivery to schools and all those things that you don’t see like the person who painted our space, or the person who drops off the crocheted scarves she makes or the 6 year old boy who collected socks and underwear for us instead of having kids bringing him birthday presents…This is what makes Note work….the people!
It is clear that the success of NITP’s mission depends heavily on volunteers. Volunteers coordinate clothing drives; pick up donations from community events and drop-off locations; perform quality control; sort, size, label, and shelve the garments; and deliver to clients. Administrative, communication, and marketing tasks are also handled by people who generously donate their time and expertise to this worthy cause.
Share the Love: DONATE
“You are loved.” It’s short. It’s sweet. It’s the simple message NITP places in the pockets of all clothing that is delivered to families in need. If the clothing doesn’t have a pocket, then this message is taped on.
Susan shared with me that school counselors have witnessed children that have received a week’s of clothing proudly wearing this message taped to their “new” clothes walking through the halls at school.
Share some clothing love by making a donation at one of their drop-off locations. New and gently used shoes are always needed. Clothing of all sizes – from newborn to adult – are accepted. Supplies are also needed for storage and organization.
Spread the Love: VOLUNTEER
If you would like to spread the love through volunteerism, then simply review the needs that Note in the Pocket has posted with Activate Good, and sign up today!
Any time you can spare to help this organization will allow for more students to be reached faster, and of course, volunteering is certainly fulfilling when you know your time was given to help improve the lives of someone less fortunate.
I left Note in the Pocket ready to host my own clothing drive! I hope you will give a little love and consider hosting one, too or consider volunteering your time to sort or deliver clothing.
About Activate Good
Activate Good is a Raleigh-based nonprofit volunteer center that connects individuals, groups and companies to volunteer needs with more than 180 partnering nonprofits (just like Note in the Pocket). Learn more about becoming a volunteer, a nonprofit partner or a corporate sponsor by visiting us at www.activategood.org. You can also follow us on Twitter @ActivateGood, or Become a Fan on Facebook!