I don’t know if you have children, but if you do—as I do—then you’ve had to dig deep when summer ends, and it’s time to buy school clothes, uniforms, and supplies. Sometimes life takes a turn for the better, your resources become more plentiful and paying for school supplies, and fees aren’t such a heavy burden. For many, that turn has not arrived. For some, it never does. I have been in that situation before, shaving money from places that were already thin, to ensure my children could attend public school with the minimum requirements. There were times when I couldn’t afford all new uniforms, secretly praying that my children wouldn’t grow much over the summer, hoping I could squeeze a little more time out a pair of pants, shoes, or shirts. It is a reality for many parents in Calcasieu Parish. It was this stark realization that motivated DeWanna Tarver to take action. That action evolved into DeWanna’s Community Closet, a non-profit service that now provides school uniforms, shoes, undergarments, and school supplies to children all across Calcasieu Parish. I’d heard of DeWanna’s Community Closet before, but I didn’t really understand the full scope of the service, so I asked DeWanna to come and visit me on Find the Good News. What I learned, and what touched my heart the most, is that for so long the teachers of Calcasieu Parish—and I’m sure teachers around the country—were meeting the needs of the children in their classrooms with their own funds. As DeWanna explains, teachers are on the frontline, seeing and assessing the students' needs directly, and for years, they were doing this on their own. In it’s earliest incarnation, DeWanna’s Community Closet was no closet at all; it was just DeWanna, her keen sense for sniffing out good deals, purchasing items herself, and bringing them to schools for students with potential needs. This original inspiration has unfolded and expanded to a fully stocked facility, formerly DeWanna’s guest house, that offers brand new uniforms, undergarments, supplies, shoes, and other resources for educators in Calcasieu Parish. Through the ongoing generosity of DeWanna’s patrons, this facility is able to deliver much-needed resources directly to schools in Calcasieu, with systems in place for teachers to request specific items. Because DeWanna Tarver listened to her heart, her eyes were opened to the needs that parents, teachers, and children face at the beginning of each school year. Because her heart moved her to action, DeWanna’s Community Closet exists to serve. This year when I went school supply shopping I noticed that the list was shorter, something I had not paid attention to in recent years past. On the sheet, it mentioned all the businesses and individuals that donated to help provide the remainder of the school items. On that sheet, I saw the logo for DeWanna’s Community Closet. My eyes filled with tears and my heart swelled. I knew somewhere there was a father that was in my shoes all those years ago, worrying, shaving funds, not sure how he was going to get everything his children needed. As I meditated on that mystery father, I was comforted knowing that his burden was made lighter. I am so thankful for DeWanna Tarver, and that her goodness and love manifested to meet the needs of so many families in our area.

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FOR MORE INFO ABOUT DEWANNA'S COMMUNITY CLOSET >> www.facebook.com/DeWannasCloset/ 

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 FIND THE GOOD NEWS IS PRODUCED BY PARKER BRAND CREATIVE SERVICES >> www.ParkerBrandUp.com

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