Clothing for kids: targeting truancy

The drive’s organizer expects an ‘overwhelming’ turnout, based on past success.



YOUNGSTOWN – When many girls get invited to go somewhere, they often wonder, “What will I wear?”

Now imagine the girl is 10 years old and the event is school.

“Truancy is a problem in schools today. Children don’t want to go to school looking shabby, and if you don’t go to school, you don’t learn,” said Kathryn Hawks-Haney, a Youngstown Board of Education member and proprietor of Give the Children A Chance Inc.

Over the next three months, Hawks-Haney is hoping to combat truancy, even if just a little, by holding a clothing drive beginning today, and continuing through September, to collect new and gently used outfitsthat have been approved by Youngstown city schools as acceptable attire.

The acceptable clothes, which consist of red, white or blue polo shirts and black or navy slacks, will be made available to needy families through Give the Children A Chance, a nonprofit organization.

“I believe one of the reasons for school truancy is because area children do not have nice, clean, neat [clothes] to wear. It is embarrassing going to school looking frumpy,” Hawks-Haney said.

Her goal for the drive is to collect enough for every child that walks into her office to take home five shirts and three pairs of pants. Hawks-Haney does not know how many children that will be, but she is confident she will be able to collect the right amount based on the success of other drives her agency has conducted, such as its annual blanket drive, which collects new and used blankets to distribute among the needy.

“I expect the turnout to be overwhelming,” she said.

One of many services

Collecting the clothes is just one way her organization fulfills its mission, according to Hawks-Haney.

“The purpose of this organization is to bring forth a positive ministry to the community and to demonstrate the powerful forces that can be generated by bringing together people from all segments of society,” she said.

It was founded in 1995 out of Hawks-Haney’s belief that there is a segment of young people who could be saved from the violence that was becoming commonplace their lives. It started out as a place for kids to come and sing, but has since grown into a place that offers a variety of services, such as computer classes, black history lessons and notary services.

Donations can be dropped off to Give the Children A Chance, 20 Federal Plaza Place Suite M9. For more information about volunteering for the organization or using its services call (330) 747-2273.

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