The Sharing Shelf is your place. The Sharing Shelf, Westchester's Clothing Bank for Children, was founded in 2009 as a grassroots program to combat clothing insecurity and meet basic material needs, such as diapers, underwear, socks, period products and toiletries, for low-income children and families in our community.
They collect new and gently used clothing which is distributed to local children at no cost through nonprofits, schools, hospitals and community groups in Westchester County. Volunteers are the energy behind the program’s success. They sort donations and create customized clothing packages for each child served. Each bag contains a week’s worth of seasonally appropriate outfits - at least seven outfits, as well as new socks and new underwear (or diapers for babies and toddlers). All children receive a toiletry kit and every menstruating girl gets period products.
The Sharing Shelf also hosts a semi-annual free shopping day for teen girls called Teen Boutique (re-imagined during the pandemic), and every summer launches its Backpacks to School initiative to provide new backpacks filled with grade appropriate school supplies.
The Sharing Shelf accepts donations of clothing in all sizes, from newborn to XXL, for infants, children and teens. Clothing should be in clean, wearable condition ready for immediate distribution, free of rips, stains and tears. Donations of seasonally appropriate clothing are preferred. In addition to gently used clothing, The Sharing Shelf seeks donations of new socks and new underwear. In the fall and winter, they accept donations of new hats and gloves particularly in toddler and youth sizes.
To learn more, visit sharingshelf.org/donate-clothing or visit their Target registry for up-to-date needs.
If you work in a school or chair the PTA, consider taking charge of your school’s lost and found, tap a couple volunteers to wash any dirty items, and bring the donations to The Sharing Shelf.
All clothing donations are by appointment. Visit signup.com/go/EgKfokm to schedule a time.
Volunteers are critical to The Sharing Shelf. Volunteers sort and pack clothing in the warehouse, organize collection drives in the community, support the backpack packing and distribution, and run Teen Boutique. Each year, hundreds of volunteers - students, individuals, families, special needs adults, community groups and businesses - log more than 10,000 hours in The Sharing Shelf's warehouse or from their homes.
The program has adopted safety protocols during COVID-19, with socially distant workstations and open doors for fresh air to best protect the health and safety of their volunteers. The program is open weekdays, Monday to Thursday and either Saturday or Sunday most weekends (during the school year). Volunteers must be at least 14 years old and everyone ages 14- 17 must be accompanied by their own parent or guardian who actively volunteers. To learn more: sharingshelf.org/volunteer.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, The Sharing Shelf has tapped volunteers countywide to support their work with at-home projects. Volunteers are tasked with filling toiletry kits for infants, children, teens and families, creating layette sets with items like baby towels, bibs, burp cloths and washcloths, or encouraged to organize drives for new underwear and diapers. The National Diaper Bank Network estimates that, at minimum, diaper banks and programs like The Sharing Shelf are distributing 50% more diapers monthly to families in need than before COVID-19.
During the summer, volunteers will be needed to fill pencil cases for back-to-school backpacks and organize school supply drives.
Sign up to organize your own drive or learn more about The Sharing Shelf’s needs, visit: sharingshelf.org/organize-a-drive. To sign up for an at-home project: signup.com/go/FTFYrEb.
The Sharing Shelf’s success depends on community collaboration and partnership. Sponsors support the Teen Boutique program and the Backpacks to School initiative. Contact Deborah Blatt (firstname.lastname@example.org), The Sharing Shelf’s Executive Director, to learn how your business can become a named sponsor or help underwrite these vital programs.
Drives organized at area schools, businesses, houses of worship, and community groups ensure that The Sharing Shelf has the clothing and basic essentials needed to aid those in need. The program welcomes youth who are becoming a B’nei Mitzvah, having a Confirmation, or who are earning their Silver or Gold Award, or their Eagle Scout rank, and offers a range of age-appropriate projects and ideas.
Supporting Your Low-Income Students or Clients
If you work in a Westchester school or an area non-profit and assist low-income families, visit sharingshelf.org/assistance to learn how to apply for clothing for your clients or email Kathy Ellis, The Sharing Shelf’s Assistant Director (email@example.com).