Most people don’t think of children in America as being homeless or in need of basic clothing. We imagine third world countries with kids running barefoot, in need of food, shelter and clothing, not here at home. But as I’ve discovered recently there is a huge need for teen clothing in many of the homeless shelters in Middle Tennessee. This is the reason I decided to join this great organization, Threads of Care. Because of my experience volunteering through my church at Nashville’s Room in the Inn last winter, I was struck by the amount of homeless people in my own backyard.  Room in the Inn, an amazing organization, supports Nashville’s homeless during the winter cold months.  They coordinate  through various churches for the homeless to be fed, clothed, and housed for the night.

The night I volunteered at Room in the Inn,  I was incredibly impacted to see quite a few families arrive. One particular thing that struck me as odd was a young boy whom asked if we had any collared shirts. We searched the donation boxes and were able to find one in the deep bottom corner of the box. I was really curious as to why he wanted a collared shirt, so I asked him with an inquisitive why?  He told us that it was because in Metro, Davidson County the schools require a solid colored, collared shirt as part of the mandatory dress code.  I was shocked, and this really impacted me because it made me realize that you never know what kids in your school might be going through.

This winter as we launched Threads of Care, we were fortunate to receive many community calls from local businesses. One such call from Parker Uniforms in Brentwood resulted in several hundred outdated surplus uniform donations. And yes, many boxes of solid colored, collared shirts. I thought of that young boy the day we delivered those shirts to Nashville’s Family and Children Services and the possibility he might be one of the many lucky who would receive a brand new collared uniform shirt, it made me smile.

I’ve learned thorough volunteering that is critical to be aware of those less fortunate and to motivate other teens to focus out on building strong communities. I am proud of the work we’ve done so far this year and look forward to growing the impact of Threads of Care in our Tennessee communities. As for the future, teens need to step up and lead in our community, show we are strong and show each other we’ve got each other’s back.