17 years ago, Fern Underwood invited Dianne Riley and Joan Peterson to tea. Those of you who knew Fern, know that she had something on her mind. That something was her concern about how financially challenging it was for families preparing their children for school. She wondered if someone could have a clothing garage sale, but not charge anything. Out of that tea, the School Clothing Give Away was created.
For 17 years, the School Clothing Give Away has been held in August at the Osceola United Methodist Church. The first few years we only gave away clothing. Then back packs with supplies and bundles of new socks and underwear were added. This year’s Give Away was held on Aug. 13. Our volunteers not only come from the United Methodist Church, but also from many of the churches and organizations in the county. Over the years we have received individual cash donations, donations of school supplies from entities such as Miller Products and Altec Industries, memorial monies and grants. We were thrilled to accept $2,500 from the south Central Iowa Community Foundation this year. We also receive some of our school supplies and back packs from Community Partnerships Protecting Children.
This year we had 92 people shopping our used clothing, and we gave away 326 back packs filled with school supplies and 299 bundles of new socks and underwear. Cross Ministries is always willing to provide some extra children’s clothing and then take our left over clothing.
Until the last handful of years, Fern sat at the entrance welcoming and counting all who came. She was on our minds and in our hearts this year as we planned, set up and gave away. She would always declare, “We live in a wonderful place”. Fern helped make this a wonderful place.