Gracie’s Closet collects clothes for foster kids

KINGSLEY – For Ida Plamondon, the yard sale season means more than bargains. She is busy trying to collect clothing and other gently used items for children in the foster care system.

Plamondon and her husband, Rick, of Kingsley have been foster parents for six years.

"Nine out of ten kids arrive with just the clothes on their backs," she said. While foster parents do get a clothing allowance from the state, it is "very minimal" and even shopping at used clothing stores adds up, she noted.

So Plamondon visits as many sales as she can, hands out her business card and asks people to donate any clothing that doesn't sell to Gracie's Closet, the name of the collection effort she started three years ago.

Plamondon remembers reading a story by a young woman who spent years in foster care before being adopted as an older teenager. She wrote of the difficulty going from house to house with next to nothing. So she started collecting clothing for teens and set up a service in her garage. Plamondon figured she could do something similar for area foster care children.

In addition to four biological children, the Plamondons have two adopted children and currently two foster care children.

"Most foster parents aren't wealthy," she said. "We struggle together. We do this to try to make a difference in children's lives."

Plamondon takes clothing donations for children from infancy to age 18. She said there's a huge need for coats and infant and toddler clothes. Other items such as car seats, cribs, bedding, and toys and books in good condition are also in demand.

After she receives clothing donations, she checks for "stains, buttons and zippers," sorts the clothing by gender and season and tries to keep a couple of bins full at Bethany Christian Services for foster care families. Plamondon would love to get some new items as well, such as undergarments and socks.

So far donations this year have been better than last, she said. She completely ran out of items last November so was eager for the yard sale season to start up again.

To make donations to Gracie's Closet, call Plamondon at 263-5364 (home) or 534-5217 (cell). BN