Dr. Barry Burak of Affiliated Healthcare Centers, Inc. in South Miami feels every child should have “neat stuff.” As vice president of the Board of Directors for Neat Stuff, Inc., he partners with the organization’s Board members and volunteers to make that wish come true for thousands of South Florida children each year.
Neat Stuff’s mission is to provide free, brand new clothing, shoes, accessories and gifts to children in distress. Working with more than 35 social agencies in South Florida who assist children in foster care and shelters, the non-profit has provided clothing for more than 90,000 children since it was established in 1995 by founder Phyllis Krug.
“The clothing and shoes in our Neat Stuff store is all brand new and it is 100% free for these children,” said Burak, who has been on the Neat Stuff Board for 11 years. “Some of the children referred to Neat Stuff have only the clothes on their backs. They are so happy when they visit the store and are able to select new clothing that allows them to dress with dignity and pride.”
The Neat Stuff store is located in North Miami and carries clothing brands such as Perry Ellis, Guess, Nike, New Balance and MLB and NFL branded clothing. The store recently started carrying school uniforms, thanks to the efforts of Dr. Burak who was inspired by one of his patients, a grandmother who needed to outfit her four grandchildren for school.
“In August, 2010, 1100 children each received five polos, three khakis, five pairs of underwear and socks, a pair of shoes and a backpack to start off their school year,” said Dr. Burak.
To help the many dedicated grandmothers who are raising their grandchildren, Neat Stuff’s “Grandma’s Closet” provides them with new clothing as well. The organization also provides clothing and home furnishing items to young adults, ages 18- 23, who were formerly in foster care.
In order to raise money to stock the Neat Stuff store, it’s Board and volunteers hosted a Casino Fundraising Event on Saturday, January 29, at Coral Gables Country Club. Event guests enjoyed an exquisite buffet, open bar, live and silent auction and were given “play money” for the evening’s festivities.
Franklin Monjarrez, Neat Stuff’s executive director, said that the non-profit operates solely on donations and fundraising efforts, such as the Casino Event. “Financial & clothing donations are received from individual donations, corporate giving and community support. Ninety-four percent of these donations go directly to purchase items for the store.”
It takes more than 500 volunteers working throughout the year to unpack merchandise, organize the store and help the children and their caregivers who come in to shop. Neat Stuff, Inc. accepts monetary donations and new clothing, shoes and gifts.
For more information, call 305-638-5878 or visit www.neatstuffhelpskids.org.