Organizers of a local event that helps low-income families prepare for school are looking for help as the first day of school draws near.
The annual community Back-To-School Closet is set to open on Aug. 8-9 at Northlake Elementary School in Tooele City. The closet is in need of donations and volunteers.
This is the seventh year for the event. It is sponsored by the Tooele Valley Rotary Club, the Tooele County School District Education Foundation, and the Tooele Walmart store and distribution center.
The closet helped over 600 children last year, according to Lorie Hemsley, who is coordinating the event this year.
Hemsley is a member of the Tooele Valley Rotary Club and works as the program manager for the Tooele Valley Resource Center.
“We receive a lot of community donations and volunteers,” Hemsley said. “But we are a little behind from last year.”
The closet needs clean and gently used clothing for school-age children, as well as gently used clothing for parents and younger siblings of school-age children, Hemsley said.
Donations can be dropped off at collection trailers at the Tooele Walmart store and at Northlake Elementary. They may also be left on the loading dock at Northlake if the trailer is not open, according to Hemsley.
Along with providing back-to-school clothing, the closet also offers free eye exams, hair cuts, school supplies and hygiene kits for children.
Four local optometrists; Lanny Duclos, David Morrill, Ryan Orgill and Jed Winder are donating their services to do eye exams for children at the closet.
A grant from Eye Care 4 Kids, a Salt Lake City-based non-profit organization, will provide funds for eyeglasses for children who need them.
Students from the cosmetology program at the Community Learning Center, along with other experienced volunteers, will be on hand to provide free haircuts for students preparing to return to school.
The Education Foundation has provided the closet with 580 backpacks and a monetary donation to fill the backpacks with school supplies.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints also donated 580 hygiene kits for the closet.
“We have had help and donations from a variety of churches in the county and other community groups,” Hemsley said. “The Back-To-School Closet is well supported by our community.”
The closet will be open Friday, Aug. 8, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday, Aug. 9, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
On Friday, the Tooele County School District summer food service program will offer a free lunch to children from noon until 1 p.m. A sack-lunch dinner will be provided by Walmart from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m.
While held at Northlake Elementary, 268 Coleman Street, the closet is open to children who attend any school.
People interested in volunteering by either sorting clothing, helping with set up or assisting during the closet’s hours should contact Hemsley at 435-849-0510.
The official first day of school in the Tooele County School District is Tuesday, Aug. 19.