New clothing brings new hope
McCOOK, Nebraska -- Torn jeans, stained Tees, mismatched socks or no socks at all, hand-me-downs that no longer fit or that have been worn well past their "best-by" date, all can make back-to-school, or any school day a nightmare for some students.
Enter L2 for Kids. A homespun ministry of Henry and Pat Potter, L2 for Kids provides not only funds for new shoes and clothing, but the opportunity for kids to pick out their own outfits as well.
The couple was in McCook recently, accepting a grant donation of $2,500 from the McCook Walmart, and bringing encouragement to local volunteers for their efforts to raise money to provide brand-new, never-before-worn clothes for area children in need.
Nate Henning, manager at Walmart was all smiles, saying simply, "We're just happy to help."
Alisa Parde, associate pastor at Memorial United Methodist Church, expressed her gratitude to the volunteers, Walmart and the Potters for providing another way to have a positive impact in the lives of area children.
When Potter, now of Willow Island, Nebraska, began mentoring a youngster in Kimball, Nebraska, back in 1998, he learned how important it is to connect with children, especially children that are struggling, whether due to family issues, financial issues or academic issues.
When the Potters moved to Elsie, Nebraska, they took those lessons with them. After the move, Henry met a very troubled 8-year-old who had already been kicked out of school.
Potter intervened, convincing the school to give the boy one more chance, for one more semester, and the youngster did a "complete turnaround."
"Children teach us as much as we teach them," Potter said during the check presentation at the McCook Walmart, "and that little boy in Elsie taught me that new clothes were more important than any of the toys I had been buying for him."
The Potters continued to buy clothing for children in need, eventually forming a 501-c3 non-profit, providing opportunity for others to contribute to the outreach.
Potter says in a pamphlet describing L2 for Kids that the clothing, shoes and Bibles, are presented as "gifts from God."
Although the ministry started small, it has expanded to include several southern and Southwest Nebraska communities, each of which forms its own local volunteer board. This allows local donations to stay in the community where it is raised, Potter explained.
This year in McCook alone, more than 40 children have received new clothing and shoes that they helped pick out, check out and carry out of the store.
Volunteers accompany each child while shopping and it is easy to see that they are having as much fun as the kids. Christi Evans of McCook said, "It's actually more rewarding for me than it is for them."
Veda Kemper, another volunteer, recalls three little girls who cried all the way to the car, carrying their newly purchased clothing. "They were so happy," she said, "it was very uplifting to be able to help."
The mission statement for L2 for Kids reads, "L2 for Kids seeks to provide, through the local churches, under-privileged children with new clothes for school to help increase their self esteem and well being in an effort to show them Christ's love."
To donate to L2 for Kids Inc., a Nebraska non-profit corporation, make checks payable to L2 for Kids, Inc., Henry Potter, 76311 Rd. 416, Willow Island, NE, 69171 For more information go online to www.l2forkids.org