ARLINGTON — While the former upper-floor occupants of the old Arlington High School building have been forced to move out due to safety concerns, the Arlington Kids’ Kloset on the ground-floor level isn’t going anywhere.
“The upper floors of the old high school building weren’t built to current code as far as seismic standards are concerned, so it wasn’t safe to have the students of Highland Christian School or the Arlington Boys & Girls Clubs’ programs up there,” said Andrea Conley, public information coordinator for the Arlington School District. “Those spaces are being used for storage now, but we haven’t abandoned the building. Consultation with an evaluator determined that the downstairs basement is sturdy — it’s made from cement, and I think it was even built to stand as a bomb shelter — so not only is Kids’ Kloset still allowed to be there, but we’ve also got our district’s support services office down there.”
Kids Kloset co-founder Kimberly Meno explained that the organization is continuing to provide new and gently used clothing, free of charge, to children in need who attend the Arlington, Lakewood and Darrington school districts, as well as their preschool siblings and any student in Early Childhood Education Assistance Programs.
“We’re starting our ninth year of serving the community, and we serve 1,300 students from this building, but that’s only meeting a third of the need that’s out there,” said Meno, who listed the customers of Kids’ Kloset as including children who qualify for government-assisted free or reduced-price school meals, those who are otherwise income eligible and directly referred, and those with emergency needs caused by a fire, a family crisis or a sudden relocation. “Our goal is to continue to try and reach more students, with ample supplies of clothing items presented in a positive, friendly atmosphere. We want it to be a clean, organized shopping experience, rather than a handout.”
While Meno praised the generosity of a host of donor organizations that supply grants to help sustain the operations of Kids’ Kloset, she noted that more clothes, more volunteers and more money are always needed and appreciated. To that end, she and her husband John will again be hosting the annual “Taste of Washington” fundraiser at their home, at 20217 Old Burn Rd. in Arlington, from 6-9 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 24. You may call 360-435-4875 to RSVP by Monday, Aug. 19, or to find out more about Kids’ Kloset in general.