WATERLOO — New and gently-used clothing that conforms to Waterloo Community Schools’ uniform student dress code is being sought as the new year approaches.
Payne African Methodist Episcopal Church is hosting a “back-to-school extravaganza” from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Aug. 20 where families can play games, eat free food, visit vendors, and receive at least two uniform-compliant sets of clothing to get ready for the school year. Boys can also receive haircuts from a barber during the event. Girls can return to the church Aug. 22 to get their hair braided.
The church is asking for collared polo shirts; khaki, black or navy blue pants; and skirts or shorts, which must be knee length or longer. Organizers are also asking for closed-toed shoes and Crocs. These items, as well as monetary contributions, should be donated to the church by Aug. 12. Make drop-offs between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. at the church, located at 1044 Mobile St., or call (319) 233-8189 to arrange a time.
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So far, Payne AME has bought 1,500 new uniforms, but organizers want to double that amount.
Karmin Teague, a church member and leader of the event, said children are bullied in school due to the condition of their clothing, or miss the first few weeks of school because they don’t have what they need to wear. She said these factors affect children’s self-esteem and motivation to thrive in school.
One of the church’s pastors, the Rev. Lawrence E. Marshall, said this is a major issue.
“If a child doesn’t have to worry about their appearance, this will help them master their studies,” Marshall said. “The morale helps to close educational gaps.”
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Teague also said closing educational gaps will hopefully reduce violence that occurs on the streets, saying guns are a form of bullying. She and Marshall said kids are the future of the community.
“Our community is our community. We’ll do everything to make sure (children) succeed,” Marshall said. “You can’t build a community until you build a person.”
This is the first year for the uniform drive, but Teague and Marshall say their eyes are on the future. Sometime in 2023 they plan to open a Payne Memorial thrift store, to provide inexpensive clothing, hygiene products, and services. Teague said after the closure of the St. Vincent de Paul thrift store there has been increased need for such a service close to residents.
The event’s organizers said they also need volunteers for the event. Anyone is invited to volunteer – not just church members. Call (319) 233-8189 with any questions.