“For some families here, Onalaska might as well be on the other side of the state.” These were the words of one of the county social workers housed in Trinity Lutheran Church on the North Side and assigned specifically to serve residents of the area around La Crosse’s Northside Elementary.
Many of us don’t think twice about what it takes to get from the north side of La Crosse to our church’s Onalaska location—it’s just a few minutes drive.
If you have a car.
But, in working to serve vulnerable teens through the First Teen Clothes Closet, we have witnessed how, for families without reliable transportation, those few miles are a challenge to cross, with transit systems that only reach downtown Onalaska during the day on weekdays—not the weekends and evenings when most need to access our Closet.
In just the first three weeks of providing shuttles from Trinity Lutheran Church, which hosts a Children’s Clothes Closet for younger ages, we served a dozen young people who were previously unaware of our closet or unable to access it due to lack of transportation. And the need is much greater.
First Teen Clothes Closet will continue to provide the shuttle two weeks in June (June 5 and June 19) and anticipates a high demand in August, September and October. We also hope to partner with the Clothes Closet during its August shoe distribution. In years past, it has distributed close to 200 pairs of new shoes to elementary-age children in a 3-hour span during a community picnic and kick-off night for the Children’s Clothes Closet.
Thanks to the support of this congregation and the Franke Foundation, we have the funds and clothes we need to make a difference in the lives of young people. Our drivers, hosts, shoppers, youth sorters and inventory workers help First Lutheran and the First Teen Clothes Closet bring help closer to those who need it.
First Teen Clothes Closet team,