MTN. VIEW — Members of the Mtn. View Chamber of Commerce met Tuesday for their regular monthly meeting at Ron’s Family Restaurant on Oak Street.
West Plains resident and Chaos Closet founder DeeDee Button gave a presentation on Chaos Closet, a charity she began as a seasoned foster parent to help other foster parents meet clothing, diaper and hygiene item needs for the children in their care.
Chaos Closet was started in June, inspired by an incident where two foster children came into the care of Button and her husband Ed in cold weather, with only the shorts and T-shirts on their backs and shoes that were too small and falling apart.
The annual clothing allowance provided by the state, she explained, is $150 for infants and $480 for children and teens, and is not reset each time a child is placed in a new home. That means an allowance might be used up by the time a child is placed in a new home, and the burden of replacing worn out, outgrown or seasonal clothing falls on the new foster parent.
There are free-of-charge clothing suppliers for foster families, but the nearest one to West Plains is located in Poplar Bluff, Button said.
She saw a need and worked on getting the job done herself. Within a few hours of starting a GoFundMe page, Button raised several hundred dollars. Within 24 hours, Jennifer Brown, owner of il bello boutique in West Plains, offered to sponsor the portable building the clothing resource is housed in.
“So the community really rallied behind us,” Button said. “We filled it up with clothing for children of all sizes, preemie all the way up to adult sizes.”
Hygiene items have been donated as well, and the Chaos Closet has also become a distributor for the West Plains Diaper Resource Center, enabling the Buttons to provide emergency diapers to foster families. In October, they gave out about 300 diapers, Button added, and she predicted the need would be about the same for this month.
Also in October, Chaos Closet got a shipment of 300 new pairs of socks via Together We Rise, a foster family support charity that facilitates “Socktoberfest,” the collection of new socks during the month of October to be distributed by the charity.
The Chaos Closet is filled to bursting right now, and is not just open to West Plains residents, Button reminded chamber members. She mentioned some Mtn. View foster families have stopped by and a Mtn. View Girl Scout troop recently collected and delivered clothing.
“We’ve helped tons of families provide clothing for these kids when they welcome them into their home,” said Button.” I strongly feel that if you’re willing to open your hearts and homes to such a vulnerable community that your out-of-pocket expense should be as minimal as possible, and we’re really doing this for the kids.”
Button wasn’t sure how many families had been helped so far, but she mentioned that in the 37th Judicial District of Howell, Oregon, Shannon and Carter counties there are 223 children in foster care.
The Chaos Closet is open to all foster families, not just new placements, she emphasized, because clothing often gets outgrown or worn out before the annual stipend is renewed. To be a recipient, foster parents are asked to show a copy of the placement letter provided by the state.
Button said usually the foster families are known as part of the local foster family community, or through the foster family support group she runs.
Appointments to visit the Chaos Closet can be made through the organization’s Facebook page, @thechaoscloset.
“It was definitely a need in our community and the community made it happen,” Button concluded.