As we geared up for the beginning of school, my daughter and I went clothes shopping. While my kids don’t typically get a whole new wardrobe at the beginning of school, I have tried to always get them one or two new shirts or some new jeans at least. Generally speaking, throughout the year when they need clothes, we just go get them. We don’t wait for special occasions. If they outgrow shoes, we go buy new ones. If they wear out their pants, we replace them. That’s just how life is with kids. We don’t have the budget to go spend willy-nilly, but we have a couple of store credit cards to use if funds are tight.
I will admit that for the first twelve or thirteen years of my kids’ lives, they were mostly clothed in hand me downs and garage sale finds. (Thank you, Grandma!) And I am not above digging through the hangers at Goodwill or other re-sale stores. In fact, I visit our local Goodwill store on a pretty regular basis searching for treasures. It’s only been in these teen years that we have begun to branch out a bit and visit “regular” stores in search of clothes for the kids. The truth is, we as a culture put so much emphasis on appearance that we will often do anything and pay any price to make sure our children look good. As I strolled through the racks at Cato, Stage, Avenue and Target, I was eyeballing the prices of clothing and found myself shocked. I was also reminded of how fortunate we are.
A friend recently needed some help gathering some hand me downs for their child to begin school. Fortunately one Facebook post helped locate a boatload of people who wanted to help. Most of them had stored boxes and bags of clothes after their child outgrew them but they’d never found a new home. They were glad to give them away to another child who could use them (and get them out of their house!) Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could come up with a way to keep this going on a perpetual cycle? It would be fun to run a storefront operation where parents could donate their child’s outgrown items and then walk to the other end of the store and pick out a new wardrobe created by the donations of other parents! I don’t know how we would fund such an endeavor since it would all be based on donations of clothing, but wouldn’t that be cool? (If one of you actually follow through on this idea and create such a place, please let me know! What a ministry!)
As my kids returned to school this week, I felt confident that they were accepted by appearance and never looked at oddly by their peers based upon their clothing choices. Sadly, that is not the case for so many students who are walking new hallways this week. Please remind your children that apparel and character is not the same thing. Style and integrity are not kinfolks. The right pants, shirt, shoes and accessories can be worn by someone with an ugly spirit and a mean heart. Let’s all teach our next generation that the focus should be on our friends’ hearts rather than the label on their socks. No matter where the clothes came from, be it a boutique or a thrift shop or big brother’s closet, the only thing that matters is the individual under it all.
God bless you and yours as you begin a new school year!