The Edmond Sun
Smiling faces make it all worthwhile.
That is what the volunteers with U R Special Ministries say keeps them coming back to help each time the organization has a free, new clothes give-away to children who are eligible.
“U R Special Ministries exists to foster self-esteem and healthy lifestyles in needy and at-risk children,” said Stuart Graham, president of the U R Special board. “We do so by providing new, one-of-a-kind outfits of clothing and a new pair of shoes for the children of Edmond who are eligible and distributing to them three times a year. As Edmond grows there is more need for service jobs and the working poor have less to spend for some of the necessary items.”
Graham said the goal of U R Special is to send the children away feeling confident about what they are wearing when they show up for that first day of school.
“It is about self esteem and self confidence,” Graham said. “Our volunteers engage the children and our emphasis is on the child and what their choice (for clothing and shoes) is.”
His wife, Darsi Graham, is the director of U R Special.
More than 110 volunteers will be working three-hour shifts during the two-day distribution that began at 10 a.m. Friday morning. U R Special will be open at 10 a.m. Saturday.
One of the three founders, Linda King, was on hand Friday. Of the two remaining founders, Claudette Dills passed away recently, and Donna Watson has moved to Branson where she is still involved in volunteering.
Volunteers are always needed to help sew the dresses for the little girls and monetary donations are always helpful when purchasing the shoes and winter coats as well as jeans and T-shirts for the children.
“When we first started all of the dresses were hand-made, although I took care of the organizational part of the program,” Linda King said.
U R Special draws on everyone’s talents. Some work the clothing and shoes distribution, some power shop and some buy items like old shirts at garage sales and cut off the buttons to repurpose them.
Volunteers of all ages are needed. Junior high students are not too young to start, and King’s mother-in-law is the oldest volunteer with the program.
“At 106 years old she is still knitting house shoes for the children,” King said. “We have high school students who came through as young children and have come back to help as volunteers.”
King said she spends a lot of time before the clothing and shoes distribution praying.
“We have been doing this for 20 years, and in the 160 times that the free give away of new clothes and shoes has taken place, it has only rained twice,” King said laughing.
Patterns, fabric and notions are supplied by U R Special for the seamstresses, and the remnants are given to the Oklahoma City Quilters to make small Christmas stockings which are in turn brought back to U R Special to give to the children.
“Our pay-off is the smile on the children’s faces,” King said.
To qualify for U R Special the child must be between the ages of 3 and 9 for the clothing distribution, be a resident of Edmond or attend an Edmond school and be part of a family that falls with a low/moderate income bracket under HUD guidelines.
U R Special relies on donations to fund its ministry. A donation of only $150 annually will clothe one child. U R Special is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization under applicable IRS rules, so gifts to U R Special are tax-deductible as charitable donations.
U R Special Ministries Inc., is at 25 W. Third St., Edmond. For more information call 340-2799. Donations may be made online with PayPal.