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Connellsville women's church group offers free back-to-school clothing

| Thursday, Aug. 1, 2013, 12:31 a.m.
Nancy Henry | for the Daily Courier
The Willing Workers of Trinity Lutheran Church in Connellsville will hold a one-day back to school clothing giveaway for Connellsville Area School District students in grades K-12 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Aug. 17 in the church social hall. Front, from left, are members Donna Welsh, Sandy Nicholson; back, Wanda Helms and Beckie Merchant, who organized the event.

Trinity Lutheran Church in Connellsville is offering free, new, back-to-school clothes for area children.

The one-day giveaway actually requires yearlong preparation.

“We begin shopping during the after-Christmas sales the year before,” said Sandy Nicholson, a member of Trinity Lutheran's Willing Workers ladies group. “This will be the third year that we have been able to do this. Each year, we have been able to buy more than the year before to give away.”

The ladies have been busy, not only organizing the clothing, but getting the word out throughout the Connellsville Area School District. They have posted notices at the schools where summer lunches are served; at Carnegie Free Library; and various other locations.

“These are free, brand-new clothes with the tags on for children kindergarten to 12th grade in the Connellsville Area School District,” Nicholson said. “They need only to show proof of residence. There are no fees of any kind.”

The event will be held from 9 a.m.- 5 p.m. Aug. 17 in the basement social hall. Signs will be outside to point to the correct entrance.

Items available include stylish new clothing in all sizes, coats, hoodies, underwear, backpacks and more.

“The clothing is new, and there are so many pretty things for girls, and bright colors, camo and much more for boys and girls,” said Beckie Merchant, a member of the Willing Workers.

Organizers are pleased with the many generous donations. Items were purchased at department stores and specialty shops by church members.

“We really did well this year. Tops, shirts and jeans for girls and boys in all sizes; sweaters, dozens and dozens of new socks; there is a lot to choose from,” Nicholson said.

Much of the money raised for the new clothing was from the chicken and biscuit dinner held in April.

“We certainly appreciate the support from community residents who attend our dinner. It went really well, and because it was a success, we are able to offer more free clothes this year,” Nicholson said.

The Willing Workers have spent many hours shopping, sorting, displaying and preparing for this one-day event. Parents do not need to provide anything other than proof of residence. Financial need is not considered.

“We do this because we know there are many families where parents are working two minimum wage jobs to try to make ends meet. They are above income requirements, but they need help,” Nicholson said.

“Our Willing Workers group gets a lot of help with this project,” she continued. “We really enjoy it when the kids come in that day. We want the new clothes to increase their self-esteem. We make a big deal, a celebration, out of them going back to school. We encourage them to look forward to having a good year.”

The church is located at 126 E. Fairview Ave.

Nancy Henry is a contributing writer.

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