In response to increasing community needs, United Way and Aroostook County Action Program are changing things up.

The two organizations are replacing their popular “Dress A Child” program with a new effort that offers the entire community an opportunity to participate and gives families clothing at no charge for their children – Second Chances Kids Community Closet.

Beginning immediately and up to July 25, the organizations will accept donations at each of their locations throughout the County of new or gently used, clean clothing and shoes for infants, toddlers and children. Donations from the community will be a crucial component in the success of the program.

In July and August, United Way, ACAP, and Adopt A Block in Houlton, will host clothing swap days in Fort Kent, Presque Isle, and Houlton, open to the entire community where parents and their kids can come and choose clothing prior to the start of the school year.

In addition to fresh clothing, free haircuts will be available at most sites, helping to ensure that all Aroostook County kids go back to school in smart style. In the same spirit as ACAP’s Community Cupboard, the Second Chances Kids Community Closet works on a philosophical system of “leave what you can, take what you need,” and is open to anyone in the community who may benefit from the clothing exchange. There is no application process and no qualifying criteria.

“We are excited to be expanding the program to reach even more Aroostook County kids. Over the past couple of years, it has become clear that the need for clothing is growing and we feel like this program will better fill the need. By working together, we will be able to fill the need and ensure that children have the clothing they need to start the school year,” said Sherry Locke, executive director of United Way Aroostook.

For more than a decade, ACAP and United Way have helped kids in the County with their back-to-school clothing needs. Having clean, comfortable, fashionable, and weather appropriate clothing helps children return to school with pride in their appearance and, more importantly, confidence. Confidence helps to build a positive attitude around learning and increases overall success in school.

The dates for the free clothing exchange will be: July 26 and 27 in Presque Isle at the Presque Isle Housing Authority; August 8 in Fort Kent at the ACAP Center; and on Saturday, August 18 during the 10th Annual Adopt A Block Party in Houlton. The times at each location will be from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., but appointments are also available if the families are unable to make it during the posted times.

“Keeping up with the cost of providing back to school clothing can be challenging for many families. Second Chances Kids Community Closet removes eligibility criteria so more families will benefit from the community donations. This new look will give the community a chance to donate children’s clothing that has more wear left in it for other families to benefit from. When the cost of back to school clothing is removed from a family’s budget, those funds can be re-allocate to other family costs. It’s a beautiful opportunity for community members to support each other,” said Sue Powers, Director of ACAP Early Care & Education.

TAMC will offer light refreshments at the Presque Isle location. Thanks to Aid for Kids, based in Houlton, there will be a supply of brand new clothing available at the sites in addition to any donations received. ACAP and United Way are looking to make this a fun and beneficial event for the community’s children and welcome community partners that are interested in providing an activity, product or service at any of the locations, or that may be interested in becoming a collection site for the clothing donations. Please contact Sherry Locke at United Way if your organization is interested in offering support to make a real difference in the lives of our County’s youngest citizens as they prepare for the school year ahead.

For a complete list of clothing donation sites, sponsors, and event news – including location updates, visit them on Facebook or contact Sherry Locke at 207-764-5197.

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