GREENSBURG – The Kids’ Closet of Decatur County will soon be open for the last time of this calendar year.

The effort, designed to assist local families in need, will be available from 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 21, at the Greensburg Learning Center, 422 E. Central Avenue, Greensburg.

With proper identification or a utility bill and an accompanying parent, guardian, or adult family friend, Decatur County children in kindergarten through sixth grade may take home enough clothing to provide some warmth and joy thanks to Jerry and Sue Abplanalp and the many tireless volunteers who are helping with this year’s program.

Sue always looks forward to her chance to reach out and help the county’s children in such a meaningful way.

“We have so many wonderful people who have given their time to help us with this project, but we can always use more volunteers,” she said.

Sue Abplanalp is retired from a 25-year teaching career. She taught kindergarten most of that time and saw the need for clothing in children of low income families.

“I saw them mistreated and teased because they always wore hand-me-downs, and I thought, ‘You know, I think that’s what I want to do when I retire is help those families find clothes for their kids.’ So, when I retired I found someone to help me do something that’s near and dear to my heart,” she said.

She and friend Bonnie Fischer rounded up a few volunteers and started the first Kids’ Closet in the basement of First Christian Church in 2012. They provided 100 children with an amazing volume of new clothing, all from donations from local businesses and from shopping trips of their own.

The success of the event surprised and delighted them, so they found an acceptable home, adopted a permanent name, applied for their 501c(3) not-for-profit status, and the rest is history.

Attendance in 2018 topped out at 300 children, up considerably since the first year when 100 children participated.

“Our biggest problem is that we’re growing,” Sue said. “It’s a great problem to have, and we gave away a lot of clothing last year. We’re just very thankful that Tom Hunter agreed to let us use the space at the Learning Center!”

Kids’ Closet stock is being stored in an unused classroom at the Learning Center. The Abplanalps and their corp of volunteers converge on the overcrowded space the day before the event to sort, stage, and prepare.

“We can only use the gymnasium for a day before, so we have to move very fast,” Jerry Abplanalp said. “It’s not the best situation, but until we can find a permanent location we’re very grateful and we’ll make it work.”

Contact Bill Rethlake at 812-663-3111, ext 217011 or email bill.rethlake@greensburgdailynews.com

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