On Monday, Julie Kleshinski, Executive Director of the Richland County Children’s Auxilary, profiled the Auxiliary’s program, The New Store, for a group of interested Crawford County civic leaders at the Galion Community Hospital.
The New Store is an effort to provide new school clothing to Richland County children in need. Started in September 2007, the store provides assistance for over 1,000 children annually. In the last six months alone, Kleshinski said, the facility has seen 700 kids come through its doors.
The motivation, as one volunteer explained in a video introduction, is “we feel like making them special.”
Volunteers from Mansfield and other county locations staff The New Store. Included among them are high school agers, which have included sports teams as well as National Honor Society and Key Club members. Funding comes from TANF dollars through the Richland County Commissioners, as well as a handful of private foundation grants.
In highlighting the popularity and reach of the store, Kleshinski referred to the 90 to 95% attendance rate of those families who make an appointment – this despite many having transportation issues. Families are referred to The New Store by school principals based on financial need or through the observation of school staff; financial criteria include eligibility for free or reduced price school lunches.
Other Auxiliary programs which complement The New Store include the School Supplies Project, which distributed 2,000 backpacks throughout Richland County in 2015; the Youse Athletic Program; a special Christmas gift imitative; and another program designed to facilitate children’s attendance at Hidden Hollow Camp.
The New Store is located inside the Mid Ohio Educational Service Center facility at 890 West Fourth Street in Mansfield.
Kleshinski emphasized that the goal of The New Store is to install self-esteem as well as clothing. “We do not want to provide a second-hand atmosphere,” she said.