FLP Student Amy Johnson Provides Incredible Service to CommunityPrint
Julie Kotsis, Windsor Star, January 2, 2014
Homeless and alone and with six young children to provide for, Amy Johnson said it was the generosity of strangers that helped her survive.
Now a full-time law student at the University of Windsor, Johnson is “paying it forward,” working to help other needy families through her free clothing program Cuddles Clothing for Kids.
“I know what it’s like to go without,” said Johnson, who in 2009 fled a “really horrifying marriage and family life” to start over with her six boys who today range in age from seven to 15 years old.
Johnson discovered the Cambridge Self-Help Food Bank in Cambridge, Ont. , where she was living — an organization offering not only food staples but free clothing and outreach to people in need. Soon she was receiving direct donations of clothing for her large family and anything she couldn’t use she would donate back to the food bank.
When Johnson was accepted to the law program in Windsor in 2012, she said she still had children’s clothes that she wanted to give away but couldn’t find an organization in Windsor that would accept children’s clothes and distribute them for free.
“For some people, $5 for a pair of jeans is still prohibitive,” Johnson said of other charitable organizations that operate retail outlets. “If I can help … that’s my goal. That $5 can go for milk and your kid still gets to go to school with new-to-you jeans.”
In conversation with fellow members of St. Marks’ Anglican Church, she found support for her idea to open a clothing bank and the donation of space to sort and store and display the clothing.
Cuddles Clothing for Kids opened in the basement of the church in August 2013. It’s open Friday mornings from 9 a.m. to noon — the only day of the week Johnson doesn’t have classes — and offers free children’s clothing from sizes newborn to 18, plus some shoes and boots, coats, baby blankets and toys.
Clients are not required to provide financial information. Johnson said she just asks for a little personal information — the person’s name, the ages and sizes of their children, anything specific they’re looking for. And she likes to know how people found out about the program.
Johnson said donations — of clothes or time — are always welcome. Clean clothing is preferred because she isn’t able to launder items.
“I donate my time and my ability,” Johnson said. “Volunteers would make it more accessible to people because I could open more often.”
For further information, email Johnson at firstname.lastname@example.org.