Helping Hands Clothing Closet — the result of a year-long project taken on by the eight troop members of Cadette Girl Scout Troop 41812 — provides a place for students and their families in need. The project was a way for the troop members to earn the prestigious Silver Award, which requires at least 50 hours of service for each individual member.
“The idea for the closet was Deb Loukotka’s,” said troop leader Melissa Bolen. “As a teacher at Navigator, she sees the needs of children and their families first hand. She wanted to provide a place where students could get items they needed and then open that up to community families as well.
“Our Girl Scout troop was actively looking for a project that would positively impact the community for its Silver Award project,” Bolen said. “We reached out to Mrs. Loukotka and asked if it was something we could take on.”
Cadette Girl Scout Troop 41812 of Pinckney is celebrating the grand opening of Helping Hands Clothing Closet at 3 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 1. The closet is located in room 133 of Navigator Upper Elementary School, 2150 E. M-36, in Pinckney.
The troop started the project by holding meetings with Navigator staff to understand their vision. The troop then held a few meetings on its own to develop a plan of action and discuss ways in which they could obtain necessary items.
Before the troop began its work, the space to be used for the closet was an unused classroom full of desks, chairs, tables and bags of clothing stacked in the corners and filling the center of the room.
The girls recruited peers and parent volunteers who, along with the troop members, put in countless hours sorting through clothes and transforming the classroom into a closet. They called local businesses for donations of paint and paint supplies, hangers, shelving and clothing racks. Two of the troop members even constructed hanging racks for the closet.
The troop plans to host donation drives and fundraisers this school year for hangers, storage bins and specific items the closet may be low on, like boots and warm clothing in the winter months.
In addition to clothing, the closet will also offer laundry detergent, personal hygiene products, school supplies and other items needed by families in the community.
“A few of the girls have had an opportunity to provide someone they know personally with an essential need,” said Bolen.
“One of our girls was so proud to be able to escort a friend down to the closet to pick out a winter coat when she realized the friend didn’t own one. It has been eye opening for the girls to realize just how great the need is and how their actions are going to make a difference in the life of a child and that child’s family.”
Helping Hands’ hours will vary. Local families in need of clothing and other items are encouraged to contact the student and family specialist at their child’s school to schedule a time to visit the closet.
For additional information, contact Debbie Loukotka at (810) 225-5368, or Lisa Miles, Navigator student and family specialist, at (810) 225-5318.