By Scott Prater
Antoinette Ross listened intently at a recent Peterson Spouses Club board meeting when one of her fellow spouses announced some exciting news. She was expecting a new baby, her fourth.
Following a round of congratulations, the spouse then announced the news came with a predicament: since her other children were much older, she would need to purchase new baby clothing.
A light bulb immediately went off inside Ross’ head. Why not host a children’s clothing swap for area military families?
“Children typically don’t wear out their clothes, they outgrow them,” Ross said. “I assisted with this type of event while we lived at Patrick Air Force Base and it was a huge success.”
Ross, wife of Col. James Ross, 50th Space Wing commander, spoke with Kayreen Crawford, wife of 21st Space Wing Commander, Col. Chris Crawford and together, the group began laying the groundwork for their dual-base effort.
With the help of the Airman and Family Readiness Centers the group set a time, date and place for the event.
The children’s clothing swap hosted by the 50th and 21st Space Wings will be from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. April 21 at the Schriever Fitness Center and is open to everyone who has access to the base.
“There’s an added benefit because a lot of people based at Peterson, the U.S. Air Force Academy and Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station have never been out to Schriever,” said Christina Stump, community readiness consultant and event organizer. “This is a great opportunity for us to open our door and showcase our base.”
Since it coincides with the Month of the Military Child, Stump and her fellow A&FRC organizers figured the swap would also be the perfect time and place to host an information fair at the same time. Representatives from the Schriever Health and Wellness Center, Family Advocacy, New Parent Support Program, Peterson Spouses Club and Mothers of Preschoolers will be on hand to provide information about their programs. Kids attending along with their parents can test their skills in an on-site children’s maze and bounce castle as well.
“In our conversations, Mrs. Crawford and I spoke about how tough the current economy has been for families and how every little bit might help,” Ross said. “There are zero costs associated with this event, it helps the environment by recycling clothing and provides a specific benefit to our families.”
Families can attend the event and pick up whatever they may need. Though it’s labeled a swap, attendees don’t need to bring anything to participate. Donations are already being accepted at five locations on Schriever and six at Peterson and will continue to be accepted through April 19.
Organizers don’t have specific goals for donations, but they hope to have a table for every age from newborn to 18 years and include maternity wear as well.
“I’ve even been getting e-mails from people saying they have clothes they used to wear in high school that they plan to donate,” Stump said.
Ross was clear to say that right now, the event is in search of volunteers, mostly for April 20.
“The day prior will be a big day,” she said. “We’ll need people to sift through donations, sort, fold and help set up for the event. That will be the most labor-intensive day, but we’ll also need a few volunteers to assist swappers during the event.”
Event organizers are also working with key spouses at both bases to help families who will be unable to attend the event.
“We’ve let our key spouses know that they can take size orders from their unit spouses and pick items up for them, that way we can assist more families,” Ross said.
Since this is the first swap event of its kind at Schriever, organizers are unsure of what to expect. Undeterred, Ross said all left over clothing will be donated to the Airman’s Attic at Peterson and other local community assistance agencies.
At Schriever, donations are being accepted at the A&FRC, the child development center, the chapel resource room inside Bldg. 300, the main fitness center and the Tierra Vista Community Center.
At Peterson, donations are being accepted at the fitness center, both child development centers, the youth center, the 21st Mission Support Group Bldg. 350 main entrance, the medical group and the chapel.
Anyone interested in volunteering for the event can contact Christina Stump at 567-3920.