PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — What started as a need to help others seven years ago has turned into a nonprofit that makes sure kids in the Dallas community have food, clothing and more.
“It’s not only a food need, but it’s an emotional need for a lot of these kids — feeling that somebody cares,” said Debbie McCleery, the founder of The Kindness Club.
McCleery has worked with the Dallas School District for 27 years. She founded The Kindness Club seven years ago, explaining that she was going through a rough patch, and she wanted to focus outward.
The club started with the Friday bags, delivered to kids in need at the Morrison Alternative School. The bags are packed with lunches, dinners and snacks for the weekend.
“It’s nice there’s somebody in the community who actually cares about kids like us,” junior Jesus Amador said.
The Kindness Club kept expanding, now with volunteers delivering Friday bags to all Dallas area schools every Friday. The nonprofit has moved into larger and larger spaces, eventually landing at the First Presbyterian Church in Dallas.
“We’ve added clothing, we’ve added personal hygiene and we’ve reached up to 200 bags a week,” McCleery said.
Students can sign up for The Kindness Club through their school counselors, and it includes a visit to the free clothing store at the church. Morrison juniors Jesus Amador and Neveah Mortensen already receive the Friday bags, and KOIN 6 News was there as they “shopped” for new clothes and shoes at the store.
“That really helped because sometimes we don’t have as much at home,” said Mortensen. “I have eight siblings, so they eat way more. It’s nice to have some food for myself or for clothes I don’t want to spend that much money on.”
Many of the students have grown close with McCleery and the volunteers. That includes graduate Daisy Van Hoose, who says the club was extremely beneficial in her life.
“It made sure that I could have dinner, good meals. It made sure I had clothes, so I wasn’t feeling awkward and wearing things from years ago,” Van Hoose said.
All of the items are donated or purchased with financial donations, which McCleery said come from “an amazing community.” She added the work is rewarding and the support has been overwhelming.
Visit The Kindness Club’s website for details on how you can donate your time or money. The club is also a list charity on Amazon Smile, which raises money for nonprofits when you make purchases on Amazon.