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July 30, 2013
Volunteers, donations needed for back-to-school community closet Aug. 15

Organizers of the annual back-to-school closet that helps low-income families in Tooele County prepare for school are sending out an early cry for help.

This is the fifth year that a back-to-school community closet will be held in the county. Previously sponsored by Tooele County Relief Services, the 2013 Back-To-School Closet is sponsored by the Tooele Valley Rotary Club and the Tooele County School District Education Foundation, according to Karen Kuipers, closet organizer.

The Tooele Walmart Store and Distribution Center are also supporting the back-to-school closet, she said.

“The first year we were open we served 130 students,” said Kuiper. “Last year we served over 620 youth.”

Scheduled for Aug. 15 and 16, Kuipers is already looking for donations of gently used clothing, school supplies, and hygiene products.

Two years ago the closet ran out of supplies before the end of its first day of operation.

To assure a steady supply of items most needed for families preparing their children to return to school, Kuipers is collecting  used clothing items for boys and girls of all sizes along with hangers and plastic shopping bags.

School supplies needed for the closet include composition notebooks for elementary students, spiral notebooks, lined notebook paper, three-ring binders, crayons, erasers, glue sticks, watercolors with a brush, pencils, pens, highlighters, scissors, rulers and backpacks.

Hygiene products that can be donated are full-size containers of shampoo, conditioners and toothpaste along with toothbrushes, deodorant, mouth wash, combs, brushes, bar bath soap, wash cloths, chapstick, hair accessories including barrettes, ribbons and headbands, and feminine hygiene products.

When Kuipers worked as coordinator of Tooele County Relief Services, she noticed an influx of people seeking assistance for housing in September and October due to the expense of sending kids back to school.

“The closet started up out of a concern that low-income families would dip into their rent money to pay for things to get their children ready for school,” Kuipers said.

Collection bins for donated items are located inside the Tooele Walmart store. The bins will be in the store through Aug.14.

Items may also be dropped off at the Northlake Elementary School loading dock on Aug. 14.

Kuipers is also looking for volunteers to help sort donated items, set up the closet and operate it. People can call her at 435-830-7953 to arrange delivery of donations or to volunteer time to help with the closet.

The back-to-school community closet distribution event will be held at Northlake Elementary School, 268 N. Coleman in Tooele, from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Aug. 15 and from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Aug. 16.

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