Free children’s clothing exchange event comes to Murrieta

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Parents shop at the free Children’s Clothing Exchange in September. Another event will be held at Murrieta Mesa High School, Sunday, March 22. Valley News/Courtesy photo

Clothing for children can be a big expense for families as children grow and seasons change, and that expense is one that Murrieta resident Lori Nelson said she hopes to alleviate with her biannual Children’s Clothing Exchange at Murrieta Mesa High School, Sunday, March 22.

“I host this event every six months for the community,” Nelson, who started the popular Facebook group “Murrieta Mommys” with her friends, said. “I noticed a lot of the moms were struggling to decide what to do with the clothes their children had grown out of.”

Other mothers, she said, were struggling to cover the cost of new clothes for their small children every few months and asking others for donations.

“I just noticed this disconnect between the two and I came up with the idea, why don’t we just swap,” she said. “Children outgrow clothes so quickly, and it gets expensive when you are buying everything new.”

Nelson said she learned through research that when clothes are just given away from family to family, not everything would get used by the clothes’ new owners creating unnecessary waste.

“When you give someone a blind bag of hand-me-downs that you didn’t actually pick, only about 25% of that bag gets used,” she said. “It may not be their style or it may not be the right size. I saw this waste of clothing.”

Nelson said that she just wanted to help people figure out a way to clothe their children, especially since at the time she was a young mother and was struggling to clothe her own children.

The idea of the Children’s Clothing Exchange was born from this experience.

Beginning at 11 a.m., parents are invited to bring their child’s old gently used clothes to the school where they will have the opportunity to select new clothing in their child’s current size. All donated clothing must be washed, organized by size and gender and placed in separate bags and boxes that are clearly labeled.

“The more participants there are, the more successful we’ll be, so we can help as many families as possible,” Nelson said, adding that the event seems to grow exponentially each time it is held.

“The first time I held this there were 60 participants,” she said. “At the most recent clothing exchange, we had more than 500 people participating.”

Nelson said all children’s clothing from sizes newborn to child’s extra-large, along with accessories such as shoes, socks, bibs, bows, hats, beanies, diapers, wipes, blankets, books and stuffed animals will be accepted at the free event.

Clothing for teens and baby gear such as strollers, play pens, high chairs and toys will not be accepted at the event, which is open to the entire community whether or not they have clothing to donate.

“At the end of the event, all leftover items will be donated to a local nonprofit organization,” Nelson said.

Since the event is created for parents and caregivers, Nelson requested that children be left at home.

“Any children that do attend must be in a stroller, baby carrier or next to parent’s sides at all times,” she said.

To enter the event, adults must have a signed waiver and valid government-issued photo identification.

For more information on the event, including information on upcoming events, visit www.facebook.com/MissLoriCCE or follow Nelson on Instagram @ChildrensClothingExchange.

Kim Harris can be reached by email at valleyeditor@reedermedia.com.