Dozens of volunteers showed up at Helen's Hope Chest in Mesa on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Jan. 16, to sort thousands of garments and spruce up the clothing bank for foster children.
More than 20 members of the local chapter of the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority turned out as part of the organization's Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service. AKA event organizer Angie Williams-McMichael said the sorority sisters chose to spend the day working at Helen's Hope Chest because it serves more than 1,000 foster children in the south East Valley and is constantly in need of volunteers to keep up with demand.
"Dr. King stated that life's most urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?'" Williams-McMichael said. "Today Helen's allowed us to do for others and serve all mankind, a mission that members of our sorority strive to do daily."
Mesa United Way founded Helen's Hope Chest two years ago at 415 N. Pasadena, Mesa, to provide area foster children with new and gently used clothing, books, school supplies and toys. The facility was an instant hit with foster parents who were financially squeezed after the state cut supplemental funding for clothing and supplies.
A number of other people, including AmeriCorps participants and VISTA volunteers, also helped out at Helen's Hope Chest on Monday. The biggest task was sorting through boxes and bags of children's garments that have been piling up in the intake area. Once sorted and laundered, if necessary, the clothing is displayed on racks in separate rooms designated for boys and girls of different age groups.
"The children love to come in and ‘shop' for their own clothes," said Emily Strunk, who manages the facility. "It's designed to look and feel like a clothing store. It makes them feel so special. The foster parents love it because everything is free. They deserve it because they're performing such a valuable service."
To learn more about Helen's Hope Chest, go to www.mesaunitedway.org, click on Our Work and follow the links. Donations may be dropped off at Helen's Hope Chest Monday through Thursday and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. To inquire about volunteering, call (480) 969-5411.
To learn more about Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., go to www.aka1908.com.
• Bob Schuster is a public information specialist for the Mesa United Way.