BARRY COUNTY, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) – A random act of kindness by a freshman in Barry County has sparked a ripple effect unlike anything you’ve ever seen.
It’s no secret; many families here in Michigan are just financially exhausted.
A recent study found 25-percent of kids in our state are living below poverty level.
So, on top of the daily stress of school, friendships and family life, these kids barely have enough clothes to get them through the week.
Over in Delton, all it took was one young man to open the eyes of an entire community.
“My son recognized that another student in one of his classes wore the same clothing to school every day since school started and this was in October. This student that day tore his only shirt in one of the classes they shared,” said the boy’s mother, Kelly Ordway.
That night Kelly Ordway’s son went home, gathered some clothes and put them in a backpack with his classmate’s name on it, quietly handing it over to the office the next morning.
“We didn’t realize at the beginning what an outreach it was going to be and what a need it was going to fulfill,” said Ordway.
Others heard about the anonymous donation and began bringing in clothes for other kids who may need them, setting up a giveaway desk in a classroom. Before long, the idea outgrew the corner. The free clothes moved to the choir room and the program earned an official name — the “We’ve Got Your Back Shack.”
“Stuff flies out of here like you can’t believe but just as much comes in,” said Ordway. “The outpouring from our amazing community has just brought us to tears so many times we can’t believe it.”
“The Shack” kept growing, moving to its current spot in the basement. Down there, you’ll find everything from onesies to women’s jeans to buckets of ties. It’s all gently worn or brand new and still totally free to anyone who needs it.
“We had a mother come in,” said Director Jaki Spencer. “She said – I just want you ladies to know, you’ve saved my sanity. She said – I didn’t know what I was going to do, lost my job in the middle of the summer. The money we had put aside for school for school clothes had to go for other things.”
Believe it or not, the Shack is getting ready to start yet another chapter, moving into its own building on Delton Schools’ campus this fall. It seems the entire community’s rallying around it. Volunteers are ripping out carpet, a local architect is drawing up new blueprints, a pro bono plumber and soon some help from Home Depot.
“Team Depot will come in with 40 people and all the equipment, tools, supplies and such,” said Spencer. “When all this is said and done, our community can say – we did that! That’s our Shack.”
It’s a labor of love that touches people’s hearts by putting clothes on their back.
“We’ll truly know we’ve succeeded when other communities start doing the same thing,” said Spencer.
There are lots of ways you can help the Shack. They’re desperately looking for an electrician and a cement worker to bring the new building up to code.
And of course, donations of clothes or cash are always appreciated.
For more information, click here.
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