JAY — A project that will provide free clothing to community members took another step closer to opening within the next few months after space in the Jay Community Building was allotted for the new store called On the House.

When Jay Middle School staff Kimberly Cook and Jackie Kilbreth noticed a need last year for items like winter coats and boots the idea for a community project was born.

Community is the key word as students and local residents including senior citizens are being drawn in to the project, Cook said Monday.

A high school group, the Jay Active Youth, led by Jessica Bessey and Tammy Deering are actively working to prepare the numerous donations of quality clothing that has been collected during  the past year. Word of mouth spread by local families involved has resulted in donations of  “some really nice stuff” from across the state, Cook said.

“Top-notch donations have come in for a variety of ages, infants to 100,” she said. Top brands of good condition, some with the tags still on them are included. The new store will not accept items that are torn or stained, or clothes with a button missing.

It will be run as a store with displays but offering clothing at no cost. It’s not just for children as professional clothing, suits and dresses appropriate for an interview, will be included. Plans for providing prom dresses are also being worked on. They even have cleats for kids who play sports, she said.

Even though the store’s grand opening won’t happen till at least October, “if there is some need, we’ll try to fulfill it,” she said.

The teenagers involved in Jay Active Youth have put in countless hours preparing the donations. High school seniors in Jay have to perform community service, she said of hopes to include them but the project will also provide some training for them as they become involved in manning the store, marketing, promoting, retailing, displaying and fashion merchandising. Senior citizens are also being encouraged to participate.

Finding suitable space that was affordable was the next step. Two small rooms in the Community Building, located below the gym, have been designated and will provide space with heat and access for washing clothes, she said.

Anyone interested in making donations or helping can call Jay Middle school at 897-4319 for more information on how and what can be accepted.

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