WELLSBURG - As it sees an increase in demand, the Brooke County Clothes Closet has received help from vocational students at Brooke High School and James White Construction of Weirton.
Located at Pleasant Avenue and 26th Street, the clothes closet offers clothing, coats and footwear to children at all Brooke County Schools. Often they are quietly bused from their schools to the site, where they are assisted in selecting clothes by members of the Brooke County Council PTA, who run it.
Bobbie Jo Parsons and Beckie Patterson, who co-chair the clothes closet, said they are always in need of donations of new or gently used clothing.
LENDING A HAND — Vocational students at Brooke High School built a drop-off box for the Brooke County Clothes Closet using materials donated by James White Construction of Weirton. Operated by the Brooke County Council PTA, the clothes closet has seen increased demand in recent years. Seen with the box are, from left, students Frank Sonson, Rob Biggerstaff and Adam Bert; Beckie Patterson, clothes closet co-chair; Denise Spensky, council president; students Dakota Jones and Anthony Brewer; Bobbie Jo Parsons, clothes closet co-chair; and Jeana Parr, council first vice president. -- Contributed
And they have received assistance in collecting such items from the Brooke High School students and James White Construction.
Denise Spensky, president of the county council, said Joy Mockbee, a member of the Franklin Primary School PTA, suggested her husband Chris, a career technical instructor at the high school, and his students could build a drop-off box for the clothes closet.
Chris Mockbee said students in his and Ralph Smith's career technical classes made the 8-foot tall, 3-foot wide box with a locked door to deter theft and shingles atop it to prevent rain from seeping inside.
Dale Parr, husband of County Council First Vice President Jeana Parr, approached Robert and Don Gianni, his employers at James White Construction, for the materials.
"He could have built it, too, but the students at Brooke were interested in doing that," said Jeana.
Mockbee said the students took pride in helping local children through the project and hope to do similar work for the community in the future.
Spensky said she hopes people won't dump garbage in the box. Not only would it harm donations of clothing inside, but the volunteer group would have to pay for the garbage to be taken away, she said.
Spensky said the drop-off bin is one of many ways various individuals and groups have aided the clothes closet in recent months.
She said Marty Bartz, assistant superintendent of schools, donated T-shirts he purchased and silk screened in part with personal donations from members of the Brooke County Board of Education.
Spensky added children in the Hooverson Heights Primary School chapter of K-Kids, a club established by the Wellsburg Kiwanis Club, have been collecting pennies for the cause.
The group has been working for many years to provide clothing for all seasons to local children and teens.
Parsons said the number of students who visit the clothes closet grows each year.
"On average the smaller schools send roughly 15, while the larger schools send 45 to 50 students in the fall," she said.
Parsons said while the clothes closet has focused on providing clothing, winter coats and shoes and boots in the fall, it's also been visited by children who have lost their homes to fire and facing other emergencies and family crises.
Spensky has suggested approaching participants in community yard sales during the summer about donating any leftover clothing.
"I think that's a wonderful idea," said Parsons, who added, "We are grateful for all donations made."
She said the clothes closet currently needs boys' jeans, particularly sizes 4T through 12; shoes and boots and coats; and new socks and underwear and monetary donations to help it stock clothing.
Members of the county's various PTA chapters have been asked to bring new socks and underwear to the countywide PTA banquet to be held at 6:30 p.m. May 16 at the Serbian-American Cultural Center.
Because of sanitary concerns, the clothes closet doesn't accept donations of pajamas and other sleepwear, bedding and sleeping bags, sandals without heels, flip flops or slippers, diapers and other baby items and anything with holes and stains.
Those needing assistance or wishing to help may call (304) 479-4773 or (304) 670-0396 or visit the Brooke County Clothes Closet's Facebook page.