My volunteer experience with the Catie’s Closet Sat, Oct 5, 2019.
The power of kindness
I volunteered my time to this organization because when I was seven years old, a nurse at South Row elementary school called me in to see her. She must have seen me walking through the halls, or my teacher or a guidance counselor might have told her about me. My parents were going through a divorce and times were tough at my house.
As I entered her office, she told me I have lovely hair, but did I own a brush or a comb? My fine, fragile hair was full of knots. I remember this sweet woman patiently and gently combed all the snarls out of my hair. She then went to a white metal cabinet, opened the drawer and pulled two hair elastics out. She then put my hair in pigtails. On other occasions, she gave me some of her daughters barely worn clothing to replace my own worn garments. She made me feel special and cared for.
Growing up, we did not have a Catie’s Closet in my school. Maybe that nurse’s first name was Catie? A little kindness goes a long way, especially to a young child. That is why the mission of this organization touches my heart so.
Here are the opportunity details as listed on the Boston Cares website:
“Volunteers will assist at the Dracut Distribution Center accepting donations and sorting, hanging, folding clothing that is then distributed to school partners. From these school Closets, students in need are able to select the clothes they like as well as need in a safe, welcoming, and discreet space. Volunteers can expect an upbeat team environment. Ability to read the garment tags needed. The project pace is moderate and volunteers should come wearing comfortable clothes and shoes and be prepared to stand for long periods. “
About Catie’s Closet: “Catie’s Closet provides an in-school resource for students who are homeless or living in poverty. Access to clothing and basic necessities are important in order to feel valued and build self-esteem and allow our students to better focus on their education.”
At 9:00 am, Sue, the volunteer coordinator, explained how we should proceed.
1) We should take a bag from the incoming donation bins and open it up on our workstation.
2) The clothes should be age-appropriate. Would a youth or teenager wear it? We also had on hand a list of manufacturers/brands teenagers favor most.
3) Clean clothes only, no rips or tears.
4) Brand new underwear and socks only.
If the above criteria are not met, the items are never discarded but put into the barrel at the end of the workstation table. Nothing donated ever goes to waste. Those items are then bagged up, and go to other organizations that can use the donations.
About 30 minutes before they scheduled us to leave, the novice volunteers would stop sorting clothes. We then went to the bins where we placed the acceptable items and hung the items. The experienced volunteers would then sort the clothes on racks according to size and type. Three hours flew by fast and everyone there was super friendly. I had a lot of laughs with many of the volunteers. A very gratifying experience.
I hesitate to mention this, but I thought it over and want to make sure everyone who has allergies is safe. While volunteering at Catie’s Closet, I picked up a donation bag and poured its contents on my workstation. I immediately started sneezing and my eyes and nose started to water. Even though I took some allergy medicine in the morning before my volunteer work, which I always do “just in case”, but whatever was in this bag bothered my system. I am allergic to cats. While most of the clothes come into the donation center are clean, you can never be 100% sure. If by accident someone’s pet gets in contact with a bag, it can cause havoc to someone allergic to cats, dogs, or other household pets. This might not be the best volunteer experience for someone allergic to pets. Please take precautions.
They are always looking for volunteers and donations. Please visit their website: