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Walk-right-in closet

John Simmons | Jul 12, 2019

A volunteer poses with items collected for the Kiwanis Kids Closet.

Think of your own family and the birth of your children. Then remember all the items you needed: diapers, formula, baby food, onesies and toddler clothing, just to name a few. In Anne Arundel County, Maryland, families in need can find all of these supplies and more at the newly opened Kiwanis Kids Closet.

The Kiwanis Kids Closet is a joint venture between the Kiwanis Club of Severna Park, Maryland, and the Judy Center at Hilltop Elementary School. Named after the late Judith P. Hoyer, wife of U.S. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, Judy Centers provide early childhood education and support services from birth through kindergarten for children and families in need in Maryland school districts.

“When Savannah Stamates, the director of the Judy Center at Hilltop, told us about the need for a baby pantry, we were happy to take on the project,” says Nadine Jacobs, past president, current board member and Kids Closet program chair for the Kiwanis Club of Severna Park.

The basement of Belle Grove Elementary School was chosen as the site for the new Kids Closet, which opened for business on March 1. Collection boxes have been placed at banks and mortgage companies where club members work, and the club is waiting on approval to place additional boxes in county libraries. The club has publicized the project in the town paper, The Severna Park Voice, and is exploring other ways to increase awareness of the project and why it’s needed.  

“Our goal is to have 12 different locations each collecting supplies for a one-month period, so that we can keep the Kids Closet fully stocked year-round,” Jacobs says.

The club also sponsors four Key Clubs (at the Severna Park, Old Mill, Chesapeake and North County high schools). In addition to collecting items, Key Club members are painting a mural this summer to brighten the new Kids Closet. They also decorated onesies and donated them to a community baby shower planned by the Judy Centers and the Anne Arundel County Public Library.

“We love our Key Clubs,” says Jacobs. “I joined Kiwanis in 2005 because my daughter was in the Key Club at Severna Park High School. As she became more involved, I wanted to see if I could help.”

Both Jacobs and her daughter, Rachel, went on to become Kiwanis Club presidents

“Our Kiwanis Club in Severna Park is small but extremely active,” Jacobs says. “We are well-known for our yearly Fall Apple Sale and our regular Mardi Gras fundraisers. Last year, we created the Mary Catherine Cole Musical Enrichment Program, in honor of one of our late board members, to provide a musical program and musical instruments for two Anne Arundel County elementary schools. We regularly deliver Meals on Wheels, and we help staff Anne Arundel County Teen Court.

“For us, the possibilities are endless. The Kiwanis Club of Severna Park is over 60 years old, and we are proud to still be creating new programs to improve Severna Park and the surrounding communities. Together, we know that we can accomplish great things that, as individuals alone, we could not do.”

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