What’s Underwear Got To Do With It?

I once worked with this guy—let’s call him Ben. First day on the job he showed up in a short sleeve shirt and sandals. Apparently, he didn’t get the memo that it was cold and snowing outside. Ben also smelled a bit funky. A male colleague pulled him aside and encouraged him to use deodorant. (Later, Ben admitted that it was challenging enough to get food on the table, let alone worry about such extravagances as deodorant.) We tried not to smell him.

Or stare.

But it was hard not too, especially when, during the middle of a presentation Ben was required to give, he wet his pants. The boss sent him home. Ben returned the next day. He was wearing the same pants and they hadn’t been cleaned. He didn’t last long on the job. How could he? He didn’t even have the basics.

Okay, so I fibbed. I never worked with a guy named Ben. But our CIS Site Coordinators do. Every day they have younger versions of Ben coming into their offices. These children want to do their job: be the best student they can be. But they need help with having the basics covered (literally!) so they can focus on learning. Last year, Site Coordinators reached into the “CIS Kids Closet” and handed out over 7,200 items of clothing items, personal care, and school supplies to kids. That need for the basics continues to grow. This school year, the demand for socks and underwear (particularly the smaller sizes) has never been greater.

So what do underwear, socks, and shoes have to do with school success? If you ask one of our little Bens, they’ll tell you that sometimes it is everything. Speaking of underwear, I’ll leave you with a portion of an email I recently received from our Executive Director, Pam Kingery.

…this past weekend I was doing “big shopping” for Kids Closet—cart overflowing with children’s socks, underwear, and pants, this time all small sizes as the numbers of wee ones have increased.  So for the first time I was buying lots of size 4 undies and pants.  Anyway, when I do this, I attract a lot of attention in the check-out line at Kohl’s—mostly because no one wants to get behind me.  However, many curious on-lookers start by staring, followed by, “uh, um, do you have twins or something?”  Usually I make jokes and say I have lots of grandchildren or the bargains are just too good to pass up. This time I told them that really, I just have 12,000 kids, lots of whom need a little help with socks, underwear, and pants.