It has only been a month since the first bell rang to begin the 2018-2019 school year. But even though school has just begun, counselors, teachers, and administrators in Buncombe County and Asheville City systems have been seeing hundreds of students returning to school in need of clothing and shoes that their families cannot afford.

In the first four weeks of school, the Student Clothing Project and the If the Shoe Fits Program (in partnership with the Asheville Tourists Children’s Fund) of Eblen Charities has assisted more than 700 students with new clothing and shoes so they will not have to start the new school year with those that are ill-fitting or worn.

During these most difficult and uncertain economic times, so many families in our community have barely enough for basic necessities they need so when extra expenses arise, they have little if anything to spend.

This is especially difficult for families with children, when they outgrow their clothes and shoes, and cannot afford to replace them.

Their only choice is sending their children to school with worn-out, ragged and ill-fitting clothes and shoes that may not keep them warm. Having to choose between food and shelter or clothing for their children leaves little choice at all. As each family and their stories are important and are at the heart of the outreach of Eblen Charities, there is one story that we have shared on a number of occasions that touched all of our hearts as does the thousands of stories we have come to know all too well.

A couple of weeks ago we received a call from one of the councilors about a young man in elementary school who was in need of help. Since school began he had been coming to school everyday wearing a pair of his father’s shoes. He had not missed a day of school and had not said a word about the fact that his family could not afford to buy him a pair of shoes of his own.

Coming to school each day wearing a pair of shoes that were far too big for him and looked like shoes that a his dad would wear added to the embarrassment that this wonderful young man had to face knowing that his friends, classmates, and teachers would also be aware that he did not have a pair of shoes that fit and that were meant for him. But thanks to the Student Clothing Project and If the Shoe Fits Program this courageous young man can now go to school the same as his classmates, with a pair of shoes of his own.

Now in our tenth year, the Eblen Student Clothing Project and the If the Shoe Fits Program (in partnership with the Asheville Tourist’s Children Fund) have grown from assisting around 100 students a year to assisting thousands students each year with new clothes and shoes.

How The Programs Works:

It is easy to access the Student Clothing Project or the If the Shoe Fits Program. Eblen Charities receives calls from a school teacher, counselor, or administrator requesting help. A voucher is then issued to the store and the student and counselor then visit the store and shop for the clothes that the student needs.

Thanks to school counselors and our clothing supporters, children needing clothes for school are able to go shopping with their counselors to buy much needed clothing.

One counselor after taking a group of students stated, “The kids were so excited to pick out their own clothes, and when they were told they could pick out more clothes they shockingly asked ‘more’?” Another adds “ Thank you so much for the last bunch of requests (for clothes and shoes) I sent. I love seeing the kiddos come in with their new duds and kicks on, they are so proud! Our parents are grateful…”

Because of the generosity of local clothing and shoe stores and Eblen supporters, all students in our community can attend school with dignity and can old their heads high.

If you would like to join us in reaching out in helping students in our community to get the clothing they need or for more information on the Student Clothing Project or If the Shoe Fits of the Eblen Charities, please contact Susan Riddle at 828-255-3066 extension 11 or via email at [email protected]

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