The ‘Notable Jewels’ we are featuring in this article are Anni Evans and the Kid’s Closet in Mammoth, Arizona.
Anni’s first experience with Arizona was not a good one. As a young wife, newly arrived from Germany, she stepped into the 106 degree weather of Tucson and wanted to turn right around and go home. She managed to survive here for four years before her husband Bob was transferred to the Bay area. Anni was the VP of eBusiness at a credit union in San Jose, CA. They lived there until ten years ago when they moved back to Arizona and settled in SaddleBrooke.
Upon her return, Anni immediately wanted to find an organization in which to volunteer. She heard about SaddleBrooke Community Outreach (SBCO) and was drawn to Kid’s Closet which was originally formed by a group of SaddleBrooke women in 1997. Kid’s Closet is the largest beneficiary of SBCO which receives most of its funds from The Golden Goose thrift shop, a local non-profit organization. Anni is now Vice President and co-director, with Melanie Stout, and estimates that she spends, at the very least, twenty hours a week in her position.
She explained that Kids’ Closet’s main purpose is to clothe underprivileged children up to the age of the eighth grade. There are eleven schools involved in three counties and includes the San Carlos Indian Reservation. In addition to needing parental permission, the children coming to Kid’s Closet are qualified by being eligible for the federal Free or Reduced Lunch Program in the schools
Twice a year, fall and the spring, appointments are made through the school to bus groups of children to Kid’s Closet which is open forty days a year. Some children may be bused up to eighty miles one way. The children get to choose appropriate clothing for the upcoming season with the help of the volunteers. On any given ‘open’ day, there can be up to thirty volunteers. Some help the children find clothing, others stock the bins and others sort and check invoices on the arriving clothes. All the clothing is new, most of it purchased at wholesale clothing markets. Anni and the other volunteers are often rewarded for their many hours of dedicated service by seeing expressions of delight on the children’s faces as they find items they like.
The Kid’s Closet budget is used to provide clothing and backpacks filled with school necessities. Close to three thousand wardrobes a year are given out and each one includes three pair of jeans, three tops, socks, underwear, shoes and a jacket. Children also receive soap, toothbrush and paste and two age-appropriate books.
Three cheers for Anni and all the volunteers at Kid’s Closet. They are performing such a valuable service and enjoying every minute of the time they so generously give.
Article by Sidonia St.Germaine
The Golden Goose” of Tucson, Arizona
The story of the Golden Goose is an amazing “Cinderella” story. It is about an organization that in eleven short years has gone from a handful of volunteers working out of a garage with a borrowed pickup truck, to an organization with over 400 volunteers working out of a beautiful 13,000 square feet building and serving thousands of needy neighbors. The “Goose” logo includes two eggs. Each egg represents one of the two organizations that started the “Goose” in 2003. Representatives from SaddleBrooke Community Outreach (SBCO) and Catalina Community Services (CCS) recognized they had a lot in common and could both benefit from the sales of donated items to support the local families they served. The “Goose” was created to share and donate profits equally between those two organizations. To this day, the Golden Goose Board of Directors is made up of five volunteers from each organization.
A recipe for success
To understand the success of the “Goose”, consider these three ingredients:
- First – take a retirement community where talented and previously busy people suddenly have extra time on their hands.
- Second – place that retirement community in a location where people who move there find they not only brought too much stuff, but the stuff they brought doesn’t look as good as it did in their homes back east or up north.
- Third – surround that community with people who struggle each day to clothe their children, care for their elders and put food on their tables.
The success of the Golden Goose, while still amazing, is at least understandable. Provide folks with great volunteer opportunities, give them a convenient and easy place to recycle, and the knowledge that they’re doing something meaningful every time they donate, shop or volunteer and you can’t help but have a recipe for success! To prove it, consider that the Goose has received several local and regional awards and has increased sales, and therefore donations, in each of the past eleven years!
Where does that money go?
All of the Goose profits are shared equally between SaddleBrooke Community Outreach and Impact of Southern Arizona (formerly Catalina Community Services). One hundred percent of the profits from each organization go to needy local families. Below are just some of the services that benefit from the Goose:
- Kids’ Closet
- Clothing Bank
- Food Bank
- Summer Enrichment
- Literacy and Citizenship
- After-School Programs
- College Scholarships
- Junior Achievement
- Food Baskets
- Senior services
Thank you “Golden Goose” for your wonderful contribution to your community. You truly are a Jewel and have made a difference in the lives of so many. Let’s celebrate the local women who give back to the community. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with your submission and if we chose your “Jewel”, they will be featured in our next issue.