Executive Director Pens OpEd – Clothing Insecurity on Rise

Clothing insecurity is on the rise in Westchester County and affects a growing number of children and their families.

The Sharing Shelf received more than 5,500 requests for clothing in 2023 from over 100 social-service agencies, schools, and other nonprofits. Demand for our program has grown 300% in three years.

The Sharing Shelf’s Executive Director, Deborah Blatt penned an OpEd that was published in The Journal News Media Group detailing the issues facing low income children and teens who face clothing insecurity and how people in the community can help meet the need.

Clothing insecurity is an often-overlooked challenge that typically takes a back seat to food insecurity and housing insecurity. Yet clothing insecurity needs to be considered on par with the other two. Each walks hand-in-hand, and it’s time we lean in and address all three.

While Westchester is one of the wealthiest counties in the nation, the poverty rate for children under five increased from 9.5% to 11.7% between 2021 and 2022, according to the Westchester Children’s Association, and over 67,000 children and teens live in poverty or a low-income home.

Recognition of clothing insecurity is the first step.

To most effectively help children and teens facing clothing insecurity, it’s important to be a mindful donor. First, when you donate clothing, keep the end user in mind and donate quality items that the children and teens will want to wear, that respects their dignity and helps boost their self esteem. Second, donate clothing that is seasonally appropriate, which means coats in the fall and early winter to keep children warm as the cold weather arrives, prom dresses in March and early April, before prom season begins, and Halloween costumes in September. Finally, find programs like The Sharing Shelf that distribute to children and teens at no cost, rather than programs that sell your donations to fund other charitable efforts.

Read the OpEd here.