Update: Children who lost everything in flood need new school clothes

Gwen Chamberlain

UPDATE: The article has been updated to clarify Courtaney Patterson's role as a case manager at The Living Well. It also includes updated information about opportunities to provide school clothes for children.

A brief conversation with Courtaney Patterson, the new case manager working at The Living Well, can either bring you to tears or make you determined to help.

Patterson, who works through Catholic Charities of the Finger Lakes, spends one day each week in Penn Yan. She also works 20 hours per week for The Living Well, focusing on people struggling to recover from the devastation of the floods in May.

She’s been on the job two weeks and her files are already overflowing with needs. In the coming weeks, The Chronicle-Express will be helping to get the word out about how readers can help those in need. The project we’re planning will take a little time, however, and there are immediate needs.

The first day of school is looming, and several children don’t have new clothes to wear.

Here are just a couple cases:

There’s a family of five who just moved out of a tent and into an apartment. Thankful for a roof over their heads, they are looking forward to getting ready for a new school year, but their three children have no new school clothes. Everything they had was lost in the flood.

An unemployed father of two children is trying to keep his life together, but it’s only gotten more difficult after the children’s mother left them all. He’s trying to scrape together the resources to catch up on his rent payments, but that means his children, too, probably won’t have anything new to wear on the first day of school.

With just days to go before school, there are ways to help make the first few days at school a little brighter for some of these kids.

When you are out shopping, pick up an outfit for a boy or girl, and don’t forget the undies, socks, hair clips, and other nice accessories. Put them in a tote or bag labeled with the clothing sizes and whether they are girl or boy items, and take the package to The Living Well, 121 East Elm St., Penn Yan before the end of September.

The children are of different ages and sizes, and Patterson hasn't been able to compile all their sizes and details, so the best way to help quickly is to buy a complete outfit for one child if possible.

Patterson will see that your generosity is shared with a child in need.

Please do not bring garbage bags of used clothing items that need to be sorted. The Living Well volunteers do not have the time or space to manage those types of donations. Those donations are gladly accepted at The Once Again Shoppe.

Cash donations are also greatly appreciated as are gift cards, but transportation can be an issue for some families.

In related news, ProAction of Steuben Yates has received a $25,000 grant from the William G. McGowan Charitable Fund to help cover the costs of replacing personal items, including clothing, that was destroyed in the flood. See the related article which includes information on how to apply for help.

Volunteers continue to encourage anyone who experienced any flooding to contact The Living Well.

The Living Well is open Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Call 315-521-6883 for details.