Jode Eye co-founded Clothes to Kids (CTK) because saw firsthand the tremendous need of many families in her community. A large percent of the students at the elementary school where she taught were economically disadvantaged.
Jode witnessed the embarrassment and disappointment in many of her students who felt that, because of their ill-fitting, unstylish clothing, they didn't fit in with their classmates. Jode was certain that if these needy children had the proper clothing to wear to school, their self-esteem would improve. And increased self-esteem might lead to a higher level of school performance, which would carry over into their lives outside of school and into the future.
In the summer of 2002, meeting with an old high school friend, the idea of Clothes to Kids began to take shape. Jodie and her co-founder began the work of building and organization. She volunteered for seven months at another county nonprofit with a similar mission, and a vision for the store was solidified.
CTK clients would be treated with respect and dignity; they would be assisted by volunteers; their clothing would be folded and bagged; and they would be thanked for visiting the store. Any school age child in Pinellas County, Florida who qualified for free or reduced lunch could to come to the store and shop for five outfits absolutely free.
By the time the doors opened in June 2003, it had the look and feel of a clothing boutique. In 2003, the first year of operation, a budget of $75,000 was set and 1,885 children were served in 6 months. The 2006 budget is $250,000 with a goal to serve 6,700 children.