Community of Character logo -- 2016 -- LIBRARY (copy)

Orangeburg County Community of Character reports that the Character Care Closet need is growing.

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The Character Care Closet is designed to assist citizens of Orangeburg County who are in need of basic items and necessities to facilitate their daily living and are unable to secure them for themselves. Current focus is on the needs of students in Orangeburg County schools grades PreK-12. The initiative has focused on these students after learning that many students were missing school because they lacked daily essentials items.

Items include, but are not limited to, clothing (uniforms, coats, gloves, socks, undergarments, etc.); school supplies (pencils, paper, backpacks, etc.); and toiletry and hygiene items (toothbrushes, deodorant, etc.). The initiative was started in April 2018 to help address a need that too many in our community share.

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The Character Care Closet initiative helps identify those in need; it secures donors and donations to manage the program and provide items in need; it enlists volunteers; and it provides distribution of secured items to those in need. The program currently relies on communication with school counselors or representatives as a means to identify and validate the need.

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Executive Director Evelyn Disher said, “The initiative evolved during a board of directors discussion. We were discussing a number of ways to engage the community while addressing this key need. And Angela Burroughs, who now serves our board of directors president, mentioned that when she worked as school counselor at Mellichamp, this was a tremendous need and we confirmed that the demand still exists.

"That’s only one of the reasons this initiative was created. The Character Care Closet is 'A Community Kindness Mission.' It’s where compassion and kindness meet need! And it’s a win for all involved. The best way to inspire others is through demonstration of the desired outcome.

“We are inspiring and motivating others to show excellence in character traits and comportments that are essential for individual growth and relationship building through education, awareness, and advocacy. And we’re doing it while addressing a key need to help ensure that our students are able to attend school and focus on their education. We want students to be able to focus on their education, not their needs.

“But we need more volunteers and funding to help manage and grow the program. We invite individuals, other organizations, businesses, and faith entities to support us. We’re receiving more requests identifying a greater need this year. There seems to be donor appeal in the fact that requests are addressing specific needs of a specific student.”

She said further, “The program is currently managed through the Orangeburg County Community of Character office. Communication is made via email, phone and text messages. But as we grow, we’re testing and considering use of an app to help facilitate communication of items in need and when the needs have been met. Volunteers and donors may support a one-time need or become a part of an ongoing network. We’re securing and delivering new items on demand with turnaround within a week or less. Our closet is virtual as we don’t have space to inventory items.”

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Additional details on volunteering and this initiative are updated at orangeburgcharacter.org.

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