YULEE, Fla. -- More than 1.3 million children in the United States are classified as homeless, and that includes 63,685 in Florida and more than 250 in Nassau County alone.
Homeless children suffer health risks year-round, but when temperatures dip to near freezing, these children rely on volunteers to put warm clothes on their back. Hundreds of children in Nassau County rely on the Clothes Closet in Yulee for gently used or new clothes. They are working countless hours, aiming to keep the chill off the children.
Volunteer and Nassau County Schools Homeless liaison Angela McClellan said clothing is just as important as any textbook.
"I know that that's how the children are going to be able to be successful in the classroom that day," said McClellan. "Because if they are freezing, or they are wearing clothes that don't fit, they won't be able to do their best work."
Amber, a 4th grader who uses the closet, said she's grateful. "If Mrs. McClellen wasn't here, I wouldn't be able to stay warm and get the clothes I needed."
Clothes Closet is for kids who are couch-hopping, living in a shelter, motel, trailer, car or campground. It is also for children living in substandard housing or a home that is not safe, warm or dry. There are also hundreds of children living with relatives, because they cannot find or afford housing. Any child living in these condition is defined as homeless by the McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Act. Last month, 45 people visited the new 14 x 14 square foot building.
Eligible children under the Families in Transition program can pick five pieces per month. The clothes were originally stored in a closet, but just last month, Angela McClellan and a group of volunteers moved the clothes to a 14 x 14 foot space.
The Clothes Closet welcomes public donations; you may drop off the clothing at 86207 Felmor Road in Yulee or at any participating Nassau County Schools.