In 2014, Crystal Wilkinson Lewis and her husband Michael discovered that some kids that their children went to school with in New Carlisle, Indiana, didn’t have winter coats, boots, or gloves to wear to school. She gathered a bunch of clothing that her kids had outgrown and donated it to the school to be distributed to kids in need. After that Wilkinson Lewis reached out to other schools in the area and found that there was a need not only for cold weather gear, but also spare clothes for younger students, and other basics. “Eventually we started asking family, friends and people in the community if they had good used clothes that they could save and donate to us for this purpose. When people found out what we were doing the ﬂood gates suddenly opened and the clothes started rolling in.” Wilkinson Lewis tells us.
Before long, the volume of donations became larger than the original need and Wilkinson Lewis decided to hold the first “clothing give-a-way” before school started in fall of 2015. “People were told that all of the clothes were free and they could take as many clothes as they thought they needed. No judgments were made as to need and no limits were put on the amount of clothes that they could take.” Wilkinson Lewis says. Since then, Caring Clothing Co-op Inc. was born and granted nonprofit status, they have initiated a program to help pay for school lunches for students who can’t afford it, and now have a permanent shop in New Carlisle. “I have been fortunate to have been born to a close, large family.” Wilkinson Lewis tells us when asked what spurred her to start Caring Clothing Co-op. “When someone in the family hits a rough patch, either ﬁnancially or physically, there has always been someone there to help them out.”