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Office full of items donated to Macomb Foster Closet

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published December 16, 2019

 Volunteers stand beside a truck they filled with donations collected by the Optimist Club of St. Clair Shores for the Macomb Foster Closet.

Volunteers stand beside a truck they filled with donations collected by the Optimist Club of St. Clair Shores for the Macomb Foster Closet.

Photo provided by Debbie DePape

 One of two blanket-making parties was held in October to craft handmade blankets for children in foster care.

One of two blanket-making parties was held in October to craft handmade blankets for children in foster care.

Photo provided by Debbie DePape

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ST. CLAIR SHORES — An empty office was completely stuffed with donations when the Optimist Club of St. Clair Shores volunteers began to load a truck for the Macomb Foster Closet Dec. 5.

Since Nov. 1, the club has hosted a drive for new and gently used clothing, suitcases, backpacks, hygiene supplies and toys through the Lakeview, Lake Shore and South Lake school districts. The club also hosted two no-sew blanket-making parties to provide more than 140 new blankets for children in foster care.

Kevin McAlpine, president of the Macomb Foster Closet in Mount Clemens, said that children often have nothing but the clothes on their backs when they enter the foster care system.

“We provide them immediate and ongoing clothing and personal items, for children in foster care and the families that care for them,” he said. “We are sometimes an emergency organization where we will respond immediately. Then, ongoing while a child is in care to provide clothes as they grow and go through items.”

The Optimist Club of St. Clair Shores reported that several residents have been donating annually since the club began its holiday drive for the foster closet five years ago.

“The stories that came with the donations were heartwarming,” said club president Debbie DePape in a press release. She said that one person who attended a blanket-making party is a foster mother herself and knows the impact the Macomb Foster Closet has had on other foster families, and a few families dropping off donations said that they decided to pitch in and make their donations a part of their family Christmas exchange.

“Without the giving spirit of the community, this project wouldn’t have grown and been as successful as it is,” DePape said.

McAlpine said that everything donated is put to use right away.

“The resources we are given by the state often don’t cover these basic needs, especially when a child just comes into foster care and needs everything all at once, and we’re there to (fill) that gap,” McAlpine said.

All of the handmade blankets are all rolled up, with a ribbon on top, lining a shelf at the foster closet so children can take one when they come in.

“It’s just a really nice way to make a child feel special and have something that’s their very own,” he said.

The Macomb Foster Closet is located at 196 N. Rose St. in Mount Clemens, in the Macomb County Family Resource Center. It operates solely on donations from the community to help pay expenses and provide items for children.

For more information or to donate, visit macombfostercloset.org.

“It’s incredibly important when other organizations, like the Optimist Club, step up and help the community,” McAlpine said. “We really feel that they’re an incredible partner in helping children in the community for us, so we really love the Optimist Club.”

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