Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Children's Closet is In the News!

The following article from the Huntley Patch, is about our own Teri Altpeter and the wonderful work she and Lisa have done to establish The Children's Closet.

Huntley Patch
by Gloria Antonelli

Teri Altpeter packing clothes in a new donated duffle bag. Credit Gloria Antonelli

Thankful for a Closet of Clothes for Kids in Need! Teri Altpeter has co-started The Children's Closet to benefit families who are struggling.

I am thankful for living in Huntley with many amazing people who are very passionate and giving to our community. One of these people is self proclaimed give-aholic Teri Altpeter. She is involved with an organization called Safe Families for Children. Teri lives in Huntley with her husband and young daughter. As a Safe Family, the number of children at the Altpeter's home varies. Teri is currently caring for two young brothers under the age of three.

Safe Families for Children
Safe Families for Children helps kids who are in crisis and need temporary care. This organization offers support until the family in need can get back on their feet. The goal is to keep children out of the welfare system, give families in crisis an option for temporary care without losing custody and offer support for struggling parent. Children ranging from newborns to age seventeen are house an average of 6 weeks with some stays from two days to a year with host parents.

The Children's Closet
Teri's involvement with Safe Families for Children sprouted another project that was inspired by the needs of the host parents in the Chicago northwest suburbs. The children placed in a Safe Family usually come with very little. Calls to friends for clothing donations developed into The Children's Closet. Teri Altpeter and Lisa Phalen started collecting and distributing clothing and lending small child equipment to aid the families who volunteer at their own expense to feed, house and care for these children in crisis. Teri explains "The age of the children depends on what the host family can financially handle. Personally last year we could not afford the added expense of diapers so we could not take any children who still needed them."

Teri and Lisa met when they were caring for siblings placed in both of their homes. Their friendship lead to taking the first 10 bins of gently worn clothes this past March, finding a location to house the bins and equipment and now it just keeps growing. The Children's Closet is currently located at the Calvary Community Church in Schaumburg. Teri is working on an additional storage location near Huntley after receiving a large donation from an out of business children's store.

Spread the Word
The Children's Closet is not just for the Safe Families for Children, it has branched out to fulfill the clothing needs of children in our area. I asked Teri how people find out about the closet. "There is a need to get this known to people who need it. The only reason we had a call from the Grafton Food Pantry was by talking to Mary Hardy (manager) and a women was there and heard me. Lisa was thrilled to pieces that the woman just called with a request for girls clothing. 'I am so happy we are helping other people. You just dropped off those cards 5 minutes ago.' This gives Lisa gas for the day; it has energized her to move forward." Teri continues "Someone in need just doesn't realize that by letting people help, you are blessing that giver. If someone asks for help and someone is willing to give, you are giving a gift to the people who want to give."

Sterilite 66-qt. Latching Box and Shelving
The most pressing request for The Children's Closet is acquiring 100 more Sterilite 66-qt. Latching Boxes (clear plastic bins) from Target and metal heavy duty shelving units from Menards that will get the new location started. Teri was very specific about the brand of bins used for the children's closet. They currently have over 100 clear Sterilte bins at Calvary Community Church and that size and brand stack the best.

Ways to Help
The Children Closet is self funding and relies on contributions and donations from the community. I asked if they have any sponsors to help fund the closet. Teri reports "We do not have sponsorship at this time but we would love to have some." Cash donations are always welcome. Another important request is for new underwear and socks for both boys and girls of all ages. Also fundraising and soliciting donations, donating gently worn clothing, laundering and sorting donations are greatly appreciated.

Contact The Children's Closet
You can find more information on The Children's Closets Facebook group page. Teri announces requests for clothes and volunteers on this group page. You may also contact Teri Altpeter at 630-205-6013.

Can you organize a fundraiser for bins, shelves, underwear or socks to clothed children who need help in our area? How can you spread the word to families who may need help clothing their children?

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