Fort Thomas resident Carol Weinel has been VERY busy with her nonprofit organization, Care Closet. Her efforts, combined with the efforts of several amazing volunteers and the generous support of David Hosea, provide a much needed service for children in need.
The results speak for themselves. The Care Closet makes a major impact on kids that need it the most. “They gain hope, self-esteem and feel loved,” said Weinel. “The clothes they pick are very gently used and sometimes new. Nothing will have a hole or stain. When you give a person clothes that are in poor condition you are telling them that’s their worth. We want the kids to know they are valued. When they get to “shop” they feel very happy and know they look good and are more likely to perform better in school.”
So what has Carol and other Care Closet volunteers been up to? A LOT.
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The closet is the result of a partnership with California Closets. Weinel’s friend Amy Hills introduced her to LauraLee Kavanagh, a Senior Design Consultant for California Closets.
“From the first time we met, LauraLee was enthusiastic and willing to donate her time and talent to make a storage area into an amazing closet,” said Weinel. “She designed the space to have shelves and hanging rods which makes it easy for the kids to be able to ‘shop’.”
There are also plans to hold ribbon cuttings for two other closets at Newport Intermediate and CCMS. The room has been painted by community partners Billy Cole and Greg Dee. Cole is the surplus sales manager for Hosea project movers and property manager for York St. Church Campus while Dee is the District Manager for Sherwin-Williams. Kids are currently shopping at Newport Intermediate School and Betsy Sanders, the lead volunteer coordinator is assisting with efforts there. A ribbon cutting is tentatively planned for February.
The CCMS closet has racks and is being stocked. Care Closet is seeking an volunteer to build a long clothing rack wall to wall. Once complete, they’ll host a ribbon cutting for this closet as well. “My desire is the students and their families are given hope and know there are strangers who care about them. These kids are our kids, they are playing sports in our community and they are our future.”
Why is Carol Weinel so passionate about this work? She wants to make sure every child is comfortable and happy.
"It’s about dignity. The kids absolutely light up with huge smiles when they come to “shop”. For many of the children we help, this is the first time they have actually been able to shop for their own clothes. Clothes are arranged by size and type so children can browse to select what they like best,” said Weinel. “A dressing room is provided so that a good fit is assured and every child is comfortable and happy. The atmosphere is bright and cheerful, and friendly volunteers are always on hand to assist shoppers!”
This unique ‘shopping’ experience does a lot for the children. A majority of the children are living below poverty or are homeless. So there is not only a need for clothing but there is also a serious need for personal care items. “In addition to clothes, coats, shoes, we also give students books and much needed personal care items, which are not eligible to be purchased with a SNAP card (food stamps),” said Weinel. “Items like soap, shampoo, toilet paper, deodorant, tampons and pads are all considered ‘luxury items’.”
Past efforts by Weinel include providing gently used beds to children who need them, providing teens with a special prom experience that includes hair, make up, dresses, jewelry, flowers and a space for special time with their friends. A few times a year, teen mothers are invited to Care Closet to ‘shop’ for everything from maternity clothes, cribs, pack and plays, diapers, strollers, clothes and other basic needs for babies.
In conjunction with Glenn O Swing, they also host a “Share the Warmth” campaign which is offered to students, siblings, parents and guardians. They receive free coats, winter boots, hats and gloves. “During this event and follow up referrals after we gave away over 450 coats, hundreds of boots, gloves and hats,” said Weinel. “Share the Warmth’ took place in correlation with Glenn O Swing parent teacher conference, which made it convenient for the families.”
A partnership with the Campbell County Fraternal Order of Police, Lodge #10, allows Care Closet to further support the families of the kids who are chosen to participate with ‘Cops and Kids’. They are also helping families with emergency food baskets with collaboration with La Soupe, Masters Provision and Annette Erickson from the Highland United Methodist Church.
Care Closet is a 501C3 organization. Monetary donations, along with clothing donations, are always welcome and greatly needed to continually stock the closets.
We are all volunteers and our location in Newport is generously supported by David Hosea. One hundred percent of all donations are used on the kids and stays in our community. Everything we give to the community comes from people just like you. There is no better way to recycle your belongings than to donate them to families in need. We have homes waiting for all your stuff.”
To support Care Closet’s mission, please email Carol at Careclosetnky@gmail.com.