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Catie’s Closet request assistance for SOS Urgent Response Program

By Staff | Oct 14, 2023

Two examples of completed SOS Urgent Response orders. Isabella, age 6, and Sophia, age 15, are being supported by a Catie’s Closet social service partner as they endure a transition in their current living situation. Their customized SOS Urgent Response packages included clothing, socks, underwear, menstrual products and hygiene items to fill their most basic immediate needs and provide them with relief. Courtesy photo/Catie’s Closet

DRACUT, Mass. – Catie’s Closet, a provider of clothing, shoes, school supplies and hygiene products to more than 90,000 low-income children in Massachusetts and New Hampshire, is seeking the community’s assistance as it is experiencing an unprecedented increase of special requests that have depleted its Special Order System Urgent Response Program.

The rapidly growing needs are a direct result of the steep rise in child poverty, homelessness and the arrival of newcomers to our schools and communities. The organization continues to receive hundreds of weekly SOS orders from its partner schools and social service agencies urgently requesting clothing and basic necessities for children, teens and families in need.

There are more than 1,000 children on the SOS Urgent Response waitlist, a number that is expected to grow significantly. The SOS Urgent Response Program is currently at a standstill and is unable to fill these orders due to a lack of funding and inventory of key new item categories, including socks, underwear, special-sized shoes, coats and clothing.

Catie’s Closet is seeking donations in any amount in an effort to raise $250,000 to replenish its fall Urgent Response inventory. This will allow the organization to purchase critically needed essentials. To support the entire school year of special request orders, $500,000 is required. The organization also seeks urgent in-kind donations.

“Never before in Catie’s Closet history have we seen this amount of SOS orders with such a high level of need,” said Mickey Cockrell, co-founder of Catie’s Closet. “We are seeing first-hand the impact of today’s economic situation and how it’s affecting children and families living in our communities. We are turning to our supportive community to help us replenish our SOS Urgent Response Program fund and inventory and allow us to continue helping these children in need.”

Amazon has announced a $50,000 commitment to address this urgent need.

“At Amazon, we are committed to giving back wherever possible, especially in the communities in which our employees live and work. When we heard about this urgent need to support the SOS program, we knew we needed to step up,” said Jerome Smith, head of New England Community Engagement for Amazon. “Every child should be able to go to school and feel good about themselves. We hope our commitment will inspire others to help meet this critical need.”

Charles River Apparel, Lowell Five Bank and UKG have also committed an additional $40,000 to fund the program.

The SOS Urgent Response Program is designed to meet the immediate needs of children who are transitioning between stable living conditions. This includes children who are homeless, moving into foster care, newcomers to the United States, fire victims and survivors of abusive situations. All of these circumstances are extremely traumatic for children and teenagers.

The organization’s school and vetted social service agency partners can place a special request order stating the needs of each child. Catie’s Closet then creates a customized package with up to two weeks worth of clothing and other basic essentials. The goal is to deliver the special package within 48 hours for a rapid response providing immediate relief. However, with the overwhelming demand, the organization is reporting that this goal is impossible to meet, leaving children without clothing and basic necessities for a longer period of time.

“My daughter, Catie, saw how difficult it was for her peers who were struggling to attend school, and our SOS program helps ensure children in need receive the clothing and essentials they need to be able to show up to school, ready to learn,” said Anne-Marie Sousa, co-founder of Catie’s Closet. “We wouldn’t be able to achieve our work without the generous support of our local community members, philanthropic families and area businesses. We are thankful for anyone who is able to help in any way.”

In addition to the SOS Urgent Response Program, Catie’s Closet operates its In-School Closet Program, which serves students in 125 schools across Massachusetts and New Hampshire. The organization runs these programs from its three distribution centers in the Merrimack Valley, Boston and Western Massachusetts.

To help Catie’s Closet continue filling urgent orders, donations can be made online or by mailing a check to Catie’s Closet, 28 Loon Hill Rd., Dracut, MA 01826. Please select SOS Urgent Response Program in the designation drop-down if you donate online.


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