KERSEY — The Guardian Angel Center, founded by Margaret “Maggie” Schreiber more than 20 years ago, provides new and gently used clothing for financially qualified infants, toddlers and school-age children regardless of their place of residence.
“No one gets turned away for where they live,” Clythera Hornung, co-president of the center, said.
Eligibility is determined at the initial visit of each school year, and families may come up to five times per school year, once a month, she said.
The center is open every Tuesday in August and the first and third Tuesdays from September through May, and by appointment to meet emergency needs.
To begin the 2018-19 school year, 191 families were served, and 433 children were able to choose gently used items along with new outfits, shoes, socks, underwear and a book bag, Hornung said.
Changing rooms are available for try-ons, and each child is fitted for shoes.
“A lot of times, the children will leave here hugging their new shoes,” she said.
Volunteers are respectful, and try to create a positive atmosphere for the families. On one particular occasion, Hornung said, an autistic child was over-stimulated by the activity in the center. So, she approached the mother and said, “We can make an appointment for a time when no one is here.” The mother, Hornung said, was relieved and came back another day.
“Wait times can be three to four hours at times, so when the children are restless, we give them chores to do at the center and they love it. They want to help.” Something as simple as organizing hangers will keep them occupied, Hornung said.
A major goal at the center is to avoid the social stigma of families in need, especially related to clothing for school-age students.
“Kids get teased and bullied by peers if they don’t have clothing,” Hornung said.
The center will re-open on Tuesday, Sept. 4 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For information contact the Guardian Angel Center at (814) 885-6192 or find them on Facebook.