CHPSPO and the venerable Playtime Project at the DC General Shelter are proud to kick off the Capitol Hill Uniform Drive from the week Memorial Day to the end of the school year. The uniform drive will benefit children living at the shelter and with limited access to school clothing, hygiene items and laundry facilities.
From green to grey, pale yellow to red, white and blue, we have assembled over 1,230 uniform items and hundreds of pairs of underwear, socks and toiletries for the 310 kids designated as homeless (in the shelter or unstable/temporary housing) attending school right here in Capitol Hill area public schools. That’s according to our tally (based on calls and OSSE data.) Their identities are kept confidential and they are housed in small rooms at the DC Shelter, where conditions are by all accounts deplorable, lacking sanitary outdoor play areas, hot water and laundry facilities.
I would like to say 310 kids, but the number is 309 now without Relisha Rudd, who is still missing and who attended Payne Elementary School in our neighborhood and disappeared from here, as well. This uniform drive is a tribute to her and others children who are among the ranks of DC’s growing homeless family population.
At the peak of hypothermia season (late February/early March), there were over 1,400 children living in emergency shelters in DC. Of these, about 600 children were living at DC General Shelter, at full capacity. The rest were placed in motels on the outskirts of the city and in recreation centers. Overall, the number of families living in emergency shelters had increased by 130% since just last year.
Right now, there are approximately 500 children living at DC General Shelter.After consulting with homeless families advocates, we learned that uniforms are of vital importance to the dignity and well-being of kids while in our public schools. Kids just want to fit in and don’t want to come to school in the wrong clothes or soiled ones. They are very conscious of clothes that are too small, sweat stains, lack of deodorant, the same shirt appearing unwashed several days in a row. Bullying and stigmatizing of kids who are living in challenging conditions can ensue.
So, with that in mind, we have worked up a list of all the colors and sizes kids at local public schools need.
There are about 15 schools included in the drive, from Amidon-Bowen to Walker Jones, where the homeless population ranges from 1 to 82, but those numbers are always in flux and tend to rise through the year.
The biggest need will be for the ubiquitous white shirts and navy or khaki pants in large sizes. We’ve “shopped” for you! You will find these and all the sizes and colors needed, including generic clothing items for the schools without a uniform, at the Amazon wishlist on the Playtime Project and CHPSPO websites. Donations made through the Playtime Project are tax-deductible as the Project is a 501(c)3. Because it serves children and teens at the shelter, the Playtime Project is best equipped to fill the needs of the kids at the point of day when they need the uniforms. They know all the kids, and know that they like to go to school already dressed in uniform, the better to blend in with their peers.
Clothing bought on-line and donations will be collected at Evolve Property Management though their kind donation of space at 1344 H Street NE. Evolve also served as a point of collection for the DC Holiday Pajama Drive.
Be sure to thank them!
Other partners include the Maury Elementary Girl Scouts and some talented elementary school artists in the area who have created posters and will be distributing their own flyers throughout the neighborhood, as will Eliot-Hine Middle School students.
Ready to donate or get the word out to others?
- Visit http://www.playtimeproject.org/2014/05/school-uniforms-students/ or http://chpspo.org to go to the Amazon uniform or toiletry wishlist. Or just find it here:
- Drop by Evolve Property Management (1344 H Street NE) with any gently used uniform clothing you see online.
- Like our Uniform Drive Facebook page for updates and photos
- Help us get the word out by telling your school communities, friends and neighbors
Extra clothing can be used at a number of schools with the highest need. For example, Miner, Maury and Payne have similar uniform codes and are quite close to each other. Children grow every month, it seems, and will quickly need new clothing, so don’t worry about too many white shirts or khaki pants and navy skirts/dresses!
*The schools are Amidon-Bowen, Brent, Capitol Hill Montessori @ Logan, Eastern SHS, Eliot-Hne, Ludlow-Taylor, Maury, Miner, Payne, Peabody ES, School within a School, Stuart Hobson, Tyler, Walker Jones, Watkins, and J.O. Wilson. — Of those, Peabody did not have a homeless population (at the time of our tally) and Eliot-Hine has a grant for uniforms at this point needs toiletry items.
Thanks so much!
Email Liz Festa with any questions twodecks (at) comcast (dot) net