Hundreds of young schoolchildren will have new clothes to wear to school Monday after their families bring them to Miss Lori’s Children’s Clothing Exchange from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 7, at Murrieta Mesa High School.
The large clothing exchange event is entirely free and is the brainchild of Lori Nelson. It was born out of a Facebook support group for mothers that she and a few friends started in 2011.
“Over the years it grew, and my friends slowly dropped off from running the group page until it was just me left. I felt a kind of responsibility to help all of these amazing mothers. I would constantly see a woman asking for clothing for their little ones, as we all know how expensive it can be to clothe children,” she said.
Nelson said a lot of times, people would over donate clothing and some of the clothing would be wasted. Days later, however, another mother would reach out for help, and there was nothing to give. After researching the issue, Nelson discovered that about 25% of blind bags of hand me down clothing were actually being used. Selling clothing was also difficult.
“Many moms were left frustrated and looking for a better solution,” Nelson said. “I wanted to create a system that made sense and benefited everyone.”
Nelson said they host the events twice a year. The first event took place in January 2018 at the Murrieta Family YMCA and helped about 60 local families. The second took place in July 2018 at the Murrieta Family YMCA and helped about 140 local families. The third event was held at E. Hale Curran Elementary School, Jan. 26, 2019, and had 300 attendees.
Nelson said anyone with children can attend. All items will stay local and are never sold for a profit.
“We ask that participants bring their children’s old clothing, pre-organized by size and gender,” Nelson said. “Once they arrive at the event, they will drop their donations off in the correct sections and then take whatever items they need in their child’s current size.”
Nelson said they accept children’s clothing sizes newborn through children’s extra-large, accessories, blankets, books and stuffed animals. At the end of the event, they will donate the remaining clothing to El Roi Ministries Foster Closet.
“I never imagined it would grow to what it has,” Nelson said. “Now it is a passion of mine. I absolutely love doing it. I spend many hours preparing for, promoting and organizing for this event. I have been able to help hundreds of local families. After each event, I receive dozens of emails of people telling me their story on how the exchange has helped them.
“From a woman who had recently moved across the country with nothing but her children and the clothes on their backs, to a mom who hadn’t purchased new clothes for herself in 10 years because she was always focused on buying new clothes for her kids,” she said.
Nelson said Murrieta Mesa High School’s philanthropy class will be partnering with her and helping to run the event.
“The hope and goal here is to inspire our youth to realize that everyone can make a change a better their community,” Nelson said. “This event truly makes a difference because it creates a sense of unity in our community. A place where all citizens can come together, to help each other, despite their differences in lifestyle, income, stories.”
For this event, they have created a Community Corner, and nonprofit organizations will be on hand to share the services and resources that they offer.
“There are so many amazing organizations right in our own backyard, and so many of them are barely known,” Nelson said. “I’m working hard to make sure our citizens are getting all of the help they need to create the best lives possible.”
Jeff Pack can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.