Dressing for success for school

Assistance For Single Parents’ Back to School Uniform Giveaway in Destrehan drew a crowd

With five children to dress for school, Christina Moore of Boutte eagerly picked out uniforms Saturday at St. Charles Parish’s first Back To School Uniform Giveaway.

Calling it “a big help,” Moore added, “It was nice they were helping the community out.”

When the doors opened, more than 150 pre–registered children of local single parents were given new school uniform shirts and shorts or pants through a $5,000 sponsorship from ADM.

“Because of our community’s generous clothing donations, the pre-registered children, along with over 50 additional children, were also able to select several items from over 2,000 “gently-used” uniforms, backpacks, shoes, and other miscellaneous items,” said Debra Rieder,executive director of the newly formed Assistance For Single Parents (AFSP) that organized the giveaway, which drew a healthy crowd of people from throughout the parish at the East St. Charles Volunteer Fire Department in Destrehan on Ormand Boulevard.

A partner of the United Way of St. Charles, AFSP’s mission is to assist and empower working single parents in the parish.

Rieder called her organization’s first giveaway a huge success.

“We all shared in laughter and tears with the extremely grateful parents and children who thanked us for understanding the challenges and financial struggles of single parenting,” she said. “Just because a single parent is employed, there are still financial burdens having only one income to support the family.

“Single parents are some of the hardest working people I know, single-handedly completing normal, everyday household duties that are usually shared by two parents. Many of our members often feel as though they are penalized for being employed, sometimes being declined when asking for minimal assistance from various programs.”

The Uniform Giveaway was made possible with support from local companies and organizations, as well as many individual donors.

Financial contributions given from ADM through its ADM Cares Program, Bunge, IMTT and the St. Charles Women’s Club helped purchase new uniforms given away and coordinated the community wide “gently used” uniform collection drive.

More than 20 local establishments served as drop-off sites for the gently-used uniforms, including East and West Regional Libraries, Anytime Fitness, St. Charles United Methodist Church, Hope Church, and Uniforms by Kajan. Helping by providing food, entertainment, and/or additional giveaways, included the Audubon Institute’s AquaVan, Rotollo’s Pizzera, Kentwood Spring Water, Destrehan Delites, Take-Away Donuts, Tasha Bourgeois with Premier Lending, and the Metropolitan Center for Women and Children, Girl Scout Troop 20024, St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s Office, East St. Charles Fire Department and Hope Church.

“This event truly brought out the generosity of so many people throughout our community,” Rieder said. “AFSP is humbled by the outpouring of volunteers, interest and assistance that we received in people wanting to help support our mission.”

Others who benefited from getting help with the school uniforms, like Jennifer McQuillon of Destrehan, also expressed gratitude for the uniforms.

“Although I have two jobs and pick up extra work as I can, the finances are not available for the extra items that come up,” McQuillon said. “AFSP has been a great organization to be a part of for my son and myself. It also shows my son that helping others is the best gift he can give of himself.”

She has become an AFSP volunteer. Rieder said her assistance is “The exact concept that we are trying to teach – almost a ‘pay it forward’ tactic.”

For assistance, to volunteer or make a donation, contact Debra Rieder at (985) 233-1173 or www.assistanceforsingleparents@gmail.com.


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