The first day of the 2018-2019 school year is most likely far from the front of parents’ minds in the third week of June. For Cherilyn Bairos and her small crew of volunteers, however, that could not be more the opposite.
Bairos is the mastermind behind the Inaugural Oakdale Community Closet event planned for Saturday, Aug. 11 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
It’s an event which the Oakdale City Council member and community activist shared first came to her after attending an organized neighborhood garage sale. Recognizing the abundance of children’s clothing at the varying homes, as well as her own with two growing kids, Bairos threw the idea of a community kids clothing event out on Facebook.
The step-mother of two shared that prior to spearheading the event, she would randomly post her children’s clothes on her personal page inquiring if anyone could use the outgrown clothing.
“I thought, wow if we could do that community wide,” she said, noting the goal being to help any parents or guardians interested in taking advantage of the opportunity. “If I can help just one parent or family, then it’s worth it.”
While the response did not completely surprise her, the donations thus far have. Thanks to a storage space donation by Richard Murdoch, Bairos and her team have been able to begin collecting items from those interested in donating to the event.
“We’re looking for new and gently used stuff,” she said. “Something that your kids would wear.”
To date the crew has collected clothing, shoes and new backpacks, all of which will be available to all community members for free at the Aug. 11 event hosted at the Gene Bianchi Community Center.
“They don’t want anything,” Bairos said of many of those who have donated well cared for items. “They just want to give.”
Flyers for the event note the event as an “Inaugural Back to School Clothing “FREE” for all” and Bairos hopes all families take the time to take advantage of the opportunity being provided.
“Anybody can come in,” she said of the free event. “I hope to see a lot of people, not just one stereotype. I hope to see a lot of families.”
The council member was candid in sharing she truly does not know what to expect of the day’s event. Thanks to the City of Oakdale and use of the Community Center, however, she and the committee have set some dates to get prepared for the four-hour main event.
On Tuesday, Aug. 7 and Wednesday, Aug. 8 volunteers will be on hand at the Community Center between the hours of 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. accepting donations. On Friday, Aug. 10 the day will be spent sorting and organizing all donated items for Saturday’s ‘shoppers.’
Bairos shared she would like to see an increase in volunteers prior to the event, most specifically high school students to help with completion of volunteer hours. Donations of grocery bags, large trash bags, storage tubs and bottled water would also be helpful.
“The main thing is just to take care of one another,” she said. “That’s how I was taught. Helping people will always be the best way to do things.”
For additional information, to volunteer or offer items for donation contact Bairos at (209) 496-1134 or Amy Velasco at (209) 840-2273.
“Our community is very giving,” Bairos continued. “I want this to be a cool fun event for everybody who attends.”