When children show up at the emergency shelter program Volunteers of America, they often bring only what they are wearing.
As wards of the state, they receive clothing allowances twice a year to cover the basic necessities. However, there is no allowance for special occasions such as the middle-school graduation ceremonies planned for June 6.
"It's really important that they can dress like the rest of the kids," said house manager Jeanne Ambrose. "We want to help them meet their social needs and develop their self-esteem."
Four students living at the shelter will be graduating from middle school this year. Kim Riggs, homeless advocate for the school district, is looking to the community to help provide clothes for the nearly 30 middle-school students throughout the district in need of new clothes for graduation.
"It's important that these children get the opportunity to attend their eighth-grade graduation," Riggs said. "Up to now, it might be the biggest highlight of their lives."
Riggs has solicited graduation clothes for three years, and Joanne Kennedy has donated an outfit each year.
"I remember when I was kind of in a bind with my own kids because I was a single mom," she said. "Now that I am able to, I want to do something. I need to give back because I've had help along the way."
Traditionally, the students dress up for graduations from both Eagle Valley and Carson middle schools and Riggs said some students have been reluctant to attend for lack of nice clothes.
Kennedy doesn't want that to happen.
"Why shouldn't they be able to go and look as nice as anybody else?" she questioned. "I wouldn't want anyone to feel out of place or ashamed. I don't think anyone should be left out."
YOU CAN HELP
To help buy new clothes for graduates call Carol McQuirk at Carson Middle School, 283-2808 or Fran McDowell at Eagle Valley Middle School, 283-2600. Gift certificates may also be purchased at Carson City's JC Penny and dropped off at either school. Donations must be in by June 3.