GONZALES — Sherry Denig and her crew of volunteers are spending every Tuesday and Wednesday morning at Gonzales Primary School, sorting through new and used uniforms that were donated to the organization she leads — Volunteer Ascension.
The uniforms will be distributed later this year to children in Ascension Parish schools who qualify for free or reduced lunch programs, she said, so the incoming uniforms must be separated by size and type. “We’ve gotten a lot of skorts this year,” she said.
The uniforms are delivered every Tuesday from drop-off points at several area dry cleaners, and those that need some mending are separated out, Denig said.
Each eligible student will get two sets of new uniforms and one used.
As the piles of navy tops and tan bottoms grow, Denig can judge how many uniforms of each size she will need to fill in.
So far, Denig said, it’s been a good year for donations.
“Last year, we got about 3,500 donated pieces, and 1,200 new pieces,” she said. As of July 6, Volunteer Ascension had collected 1,749 new uniform pieces — a value of about $24,164, and a still uncounted volume of used uniforms.
This year, she said, a $10,000 donation from Grainger Industrial Supply provided a much-needed boost to both of the agencies’ back-to-school programs. Half the money will fund the school uniform drive, and the other half will go toward the Stuff the Bus school supplies campaign, which collected the majority of its supplies Wednesday.
“Every dollar we get helps, but $5,000 at the start, it’s really a game-changer for these programs,” Denig said. “We don’t have to worry about being short on some sizes.”
Volunteer Ascension will continue to collect new and used uniforms at barrels posted at Kean’s the Cleaner in Prairieville, 17188 Airline Highway, and Gonzales, 14505 La. 44, Suite 104; Dutch’s Dry Cleaning, 929 N. Burnside Ave., Gonzales; and LeJeune’s Cleaners, 1434 N. Burnside Ave., Gonzales, up until the uniforms are distributed, Aug. 2 and 3.
Because of the influx of cash and donated uniforms, Denig said she expects to be able to provide anywhere from three to four new uniforms to each eligible applicant this year, depending on how many applicants they receive.
“It really makes a big difference,” Denig said, adding the $5,000 in seed money will also change things for the Stuff the Bus campaign.
“Any supplies we’re short of, we’re reasonably certain we’ll be able to make up the difference with these funds,” she said, adding Grainger will also send out volunteers to help distribute the uniforms and school supplies.
Uniforms will be distributed at Gonzales Primary School cafeteria on Burnside in Gonzales on Aug. 2 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Aug. 3 from 9 a.m. to noon.
For more information on these programs, or to volunteer, call Volunteer Ascension at (225) 644-7655.