As part of its continuing commitment to help children and the community, the Liberty County Armed Services Family YMCA is starting a program to help underprivileged children get school uniforms.
Christina Anthony, Military Family Outreach Program director, said the idea came while she was spring cleaning.
"I came across the uniforms … and I was thinking, instead of throwing them out, keep them and give them to children who are in need," she said. "Children go through a rotation and we want to have a uniform closet here pretty much like a food bank but with uniforms."
Anthony said they set up a box at the YMCA entrance for people to drop off uniforms their children no longer use or have outgrown. They plan to collect, wash and sort the clothes by school colors and sizes. Anthony said she plans to work with Wal-Mart and Fort Stewart officials to see if they will allow drop boxes on post and in the store.
"We want to continue the collection throughout the year," she said. "People can come by and trade in and out. It is for the general public because in today’s economic times we just don’t know how people are facing financial difficulty and it’s costly to buy uniforms."
Anthony said she hopes to collect enough uniforms so families can have a weekly set for each child.
Anthony said it’s just another example of how the YMCA is expanding their community reach.
"We are looking into so many different aspects of how the YMCA can assist families, but not just families — businesses in general," she said.
The YMCA has specialized programs that benefit our military community sponsored by Operation Home Front.
One of the programs allows the YMCA to distribute backpacks with school supplies to be distributed to 1500 children this year. 500 of those will be distributed in Liberty County. Anthony said they are given to military children soldiers ranked E-5 and below.
"As part of Operation Home Front the YMCA has a program where free wedding gowns are giving to a woman who is marrying a military soldier," Anthony said. "The gowns are donated from Alfred Angelo and they normally run anywhere from $500-$1,000."
Anthony said the YMCS plans to keep their Teen Achievers program busy all summer with more community projects beginning by putting the word out about their school uniforms collection.
"Recently they assisted in the recycling campaigns sponsored by Keep Liberty County Beautiful," she said. "There is a big list of activities for them to do this summer."
Relating to kids health Anthony said they want to reduce the child obesity rate by implementing walking routes for kids who live within a mile of school. She said it would help reduce the need for extra bus routes, drivers, gas expenses and help children exercise.
"Child obesity rates are at 84 percent," she said. "They did a survey in Chatham county where the kids from all the schools, in one specific grade, were tested and they found 44 percent was the average body fat percentage."
This year the YMCA added a middle school after school care program.
"There was big demand for that," she said.
For more information on the clothes, YMCA or Operation Home Front call 368-9622.