Kids Kloset offers Taste of Washington

ARLINGTON The third annual Taste of Washington fundraiser and silent auction for Arlingtons Kids Kloset takes place Aug. 25, hosted by Kimberly Meno.
Meno, co-founder of Kids Kloset, will be hosting the event in her home from 6-9 p.m., complete with Washington state beers, wines and foods provided by Haggen Foods and other local producers. Shes proud of what Kids Kloset has accomplished so far, but she sees room for it to do even more.
In the past year, weve helped more than 900 students, Meno said. When you consider that the average elementary school is around 450 students, thats two entire elementary schools nearly double what we did in the year prior. At the same time, nearly three times as many more students, around 2,500 in three school districts, qualify to receive our aid, so were still only reaching the tip of the iceberg. There are a lot of children in need, right in our own community.
Fellow Kids Kloset co-founder Linda Dussault clarified that the organization helped 329 children in the spring of 2007 and 596 children in the fall of 2006, compared to the 532 children they has assisted in the previous spring and fall.
Kids Kloset was established to serve children who qualify for government-assisted free or reduced-price school meals, or who are otherwise income eligible and directly referred, in the 98223 zip code. During the past year, the groups coverage area has grown to include the Darrington School District, in addition to those of Arlington and Lakewood. Meno has credited Arlington and Lakewood schools such as the English Crossing, Kent Prairie and Presidents elementaries with helping to support their neighbors to the east, by conducting collection drives for clothing and hygiene items.
Because of hygiene issues, Kids Kloset does not accept or dispense any used socks or underwear, but as a non-profit group with low overhead, they try not to spend any of their operating costs on purchasing new items. The group relies almost exclusively on donations of clothing, backpacks, school supplies and hygiene articles from others to stock their stores shelves, on the first floor of the old high school building on French Street.
We let parents and children choose complete wardrobes for themselves, enough to last them a full school week, along with backpacks full of school supplies that are appropriate for each childs grade level, Meno said. Were also there for children with emergency needs, because of fires, hurricanes, family crisis situations or sudden relocations.
Dussault expressed pride in how much the group has grown, from eight members in May of 2005 to more than two dozen now, but she would like to see Kids Kloset eventually expand to 40 members, who could volunteer their time for tasks ranging from clothing collection and sorting to helping families shop for the items that they need.
Were growing a little at a time, Dussault said. Weve gotten great support from the community, and I want to thank them from the bottom of my heart.
The Taste of Washington fundraiser and silent auction takes place Aug. 25 from 6-9 p.m. at 20217 Old Burn Road in Arlington. Meno invited attendees who cannot RSVP to pay at the door, $30 per person and $50 per couple, and thanked Costco, Frontier Bank, Arlington Pharmacy and Julies Barber Shop for their support.
Arlingtons Kids Kloset is located on 135 S. French St. in Arlington and has new hours, from 9:30 a.m. to noon and 5-8 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays. To find out more or volunteer, you can call 360-435-4875, or simply show up during working hours.

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