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Bellevue Youth Link and Plato's Closet Partnership Helps Clothe Teens and Families

The Teen Closet program helps teens and families who need clothing -- no questions asked. Consignment store Plato's Closet donates between 1,500 to 2,000 items a week.

Once a month, young adults and families in need on the Eastside get a chance to spice up their wardrobes, thanks to a program involving Bellevue teens.

The Teen Closet program is put on by a local leadership program founded in 1990 and sponsored by the city’s parks and community service department and Bellevue Public Schools, according to its website. The next event is Monday, July 16, from 4-6 p.m.

The idea of the clothing bank is simple -- anyone who shows up is given a plastic bag to “shop” and take whatever he or she needs for free.  It’s the only program on the Eastside to distribute free clothing with no questions asked, according to Patrick Alina, who helped start the program over a decade ago and serves as its program coordinator.

Anywhere from 40 to 70 families show up for the Teen Closet events, Alina said.  Teenagers from Bellevue Youth Link work the distribution tables under his supervision.  He appreciates the local businesses and people who make the program possible.

“I’ve been doing this a long time and the outpouring of generosity in this community is outstanding,” Alina said.

Most of the clothing comes from , a local consignment shop.  Plato’s takes in anywhere from 1,500 to 2,000 items per week, according to owner John Cosser.

Cosser was looking for a place to charitably donate the clothes that didn’t make the sales floor when he met Alina in 2004.

“We were trying to be yet another vehicle to help those in need,” he said. The two men formed a partnership that has been serving Eastside families ever since. 

The Teen Closet event is held in partnership with the Renewal Food Bank.  Families in need will get a chance to stock up on groceries as well as getting new clothes. The Renewal Food Bank has been operating in Bellevue for 14 years. The food is donated by individuals in the community and organizations like Northwest Harvest and Food Lifeline.  Rich Brown, director of Community Development at Renewal, says the organization is always happy to take food donations. The food bank serves around 225 families every week. 

The Teen Closet and Renewal Food Bank event will be held in the portable buildings behind the Bellevue Foursquare Church, 2015 Richards Road. Neither organization is affiliated with the church.

The Teen Closet takes place one Monday afternoon a month from 4-6 p.m.  For more information on Bellevue Youth Link visit www.youthlink.com.

Renewal Food Bank is open for families in need every Monday and Wednesday.  More information can be found at www.worldimpactnetwork.org.

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(AMELIA GREIM is a student in the University of Washington Department of Communication News Laboratory.)

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