OFH Clothing for a Cause

food for the homeless & hope for the hopeless

Helping Hand for Homeless Cobb Kids

on September 14, 2012

Our Father’s Hands provides quality clothing to families in need and has expanded assistance from just a few schools to all in the county’s school district.

Children living in shelters, abandoned buildings, cars in parking lots, extended-stay motels and safe houses after their mothers got out of abusive relationships—they’re the ones that drive Linda Lipp to continue on in the face of exhaustion and hardship. “These children do not have a refrigerator to put their artwork on when they come home from school,” the West Cobb woman said. “Often, these children only have what they can fit in a suitcase or a backpack.”

At the store, families are given clothes that were donated or, in the case of underwear or socks, are brand new. Cobb school children are allocated free clothes worth $25 for each school year, and if there aren’t shoes available that fit, they’re also given a $20 shoe gift card.

All donated clothes must meet a standard, which includes no stains or rips. But no items are thrown away; they’re instead given to other area ministries and shelters, and have even made it as far as Mexico. Additionally, all clothing is on racks instead of in boxes or paper bags. “That was a big thing we wanted to make sure of: that all our families had the same dignity in getting clothing as you and I do,” Lipp said. “These children get to come to the store and ‘shop’ for their own stuff and try it on.”

Our Father’s Hands has grown from only being able to help a few nearby schools last year to all Cobb elementary, middle and high schools this year. During that time, the homeless children in the 106,000-student school district have increased to 1,600 from 1,288, Lipp said. The average homeless child changes locations three times a year and oftentimes has items stolen, Lipp said. But by providing fresh clothes, Our Father’s Hands allows them to stay “under the radar” so other students aren’t aware of their situation, she added. “The emotional scars you can’t see,” she said, “but they can look like everybody else.”

Speaking about Our Father’s Hands, Paulette Herbert, social worker for Cobb schools noted how the school district can get items “very quick.” “If we need something, we can get it from them immediately,” said Herbert, a supervisor for the district’s social work department, which has 31 total social workers.

Another of those social workers, Antoinette Frazier, also described the help the organization provides: “Many of our families are experiencing extremely challenging situations. Whether it’s loss of housing, unemployment or under employment, they struggle day to day to meet the most basic needs of their children. I think that it is refreshing for these families to have the opportunity to walk into a clothing store and shop for quality clothing for their children.” Providing stability for a family is the end goal, Herbert said, but pointing back to organizations like Our Father’s Hands, essentials like clothing must be met first.

Helping the district with the basic need is “exhausting and fulfilling at the same time,” Lipp said. “I just feel like I am being true and faithful and doing what God has called me to do,” she said. “Yeah, I get tired and there’s a lot of need out there, but once you’ve helped one of those kids and you’ve seen that smile, it makes it all worthwhile.”

To donate to Our Father’s Hands, you can drop off clothing at the store at 2120 New Macland Road or give money online to buy shoes at http://www.ourfathershands.com


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