The Clothes Don't Make the Man

January 18, 2011
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That’s what one sticky note read on the “Wall of Worries” in the Childhelp Center in Phoenix. This “wall” was a three foot by six foot piece of paper hung solemnly in the therapy room of this building. And it was plastered witch sticky notes. The purpose of the “wall” was for mistreated and abused children to write down their worries as a form of venting. Reading the sticky notes left me in disbelief. Simple things, such as clothes, love, and peace in their households, were written all across the wall.

My friend, Erika, had talked to me about this place. Essentially, this center provides abused children with the resources they need after being rescued from turbulent situations at home. From clothes to psychologists, this organization gives mistreated kids a brighter future. It helps put children on the path to adoption or a safer environment. Erika was an active volunteer and encouraged me to visit sometime. With my Sunday plans nonexistent, I took up her offer. I walked in casually not expecting what to find. The lobby was tremendously inviting with fresh bright-colored walls and children’s artwork dotting them. In the middle was a small fountain with dozens of coins scattered on the blue bottom. The receptionist was kind and ushered me into the backroom where Erika was sorting clothes. She greeted me and put me to work picking, folding, and sorting clothes by gender and size.

Backpacks were what we assorted that day. Erika explained to me that most kids come through the center with nothing but the clothes on their backs. Apprehensive and fearful, kids need comfort and reassurance that everything will work out in their lives. That’s where the backpacks come in. A backpack includes two sets of clothes and a stuffed animal to alleviate the pain they are going through. It provides them with a sense of ownership of something, however small it might be. Everything around them is being controlled, decided, and worked out. By giving them a few possessions, the children can have a bit of control over their hectic lives.

Crates upon crates of clothes were carried in and stacked into dangerous teetering heights. With intimidation, I began my task. Pink skirts, white blouses, and bedazzled pants were mounded in a heap. Print shirts, blue jeans, and comfy sweatshirts in another. I managed to bag 30 backpacks that day, Saying I was proud would be an understatement. I had actually helped my community. Usually, performing community service seems forced and mediocre. This day I felt anything but. Giving back to those who truly need it warmed my soul like the hot Arizona sun. However trivial packing a few outfits for abused kids might seem, I learned that clothes don’t make the man. Donating your time to give back to those who might not have it as good does.





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