The annual Gutchies for Kidz campaign is underway and will run until March 31.
“Gutchies” is Western Pennsylvania slang for underwear, and this initiative aims to collect donations of underwear, socks, pajamas and long underwear for area children. Sizes for boys and girls will start with size 4 – 2xl.
Donations will be collected at the United Way of Lawrence County office, 223 N. Mercer St.; Connerly Cleaners, 127 N. Mercer St.; and the office of State Representative Chris Sainato, 20 S. Mercer St.
The “Gutchies for Kidz” program was started several years ago by Connie McMichaels of Connerly’s Cleaners when she was president of the Quota Club. This program has been adopted by United Way of Lawrence County. Sponsorship of Gutchies Drive is provided by AFSCME Local 2902.
United Way works with agencies and many families dealing with various issues such as homelessness and these items are much needed especially during the winter season.
“These donations were distributed through school districts and children’s service agencies in Lawrence County to children and youth who have been identified as homeless, according to the McKinney-Vento federal definitions of education,” said Wendy Kinnear, IU IV Midwest Regional Coordinator for Homelessness and Foster Care. take care of the children in our area. “These definitions included students doubled with others, those ‘couch surfing’ from place to place, families in shelters, those living in motels, substandard housing, and displaced youth living with someone who is not a parent or guardian (unaccompanied youth).
“In 2019-20, Lawrence County Schools identified 391 children and youth in these situations and ensured their right to remain in their home school or be enrolled immediately, while trying to provide them with services, the clothes and supplies they need. Homeless families often can barely afford food and basic necessities, so new socks, underwear, pajamas and other items are desperately needed. The generosity of the community, and in particular the work of United Way staff, is greatly appreciated by the Education Program for Homeless Children and Youth of Pennsylvania, as well as the children.
Brian Rice, social worker for the New Castle Area School District, said “donations to our district through the United Way from Gutchies Drive help us ensure that students who need socks, underwear thermal clothing and underwear are covered. It’s a great feeling to be able to meet the needs of our students as they arise. We would like to thank everyone who donates to Gutchies Drive and the United Way of Lawrence County partnership.
If an organization, church, club or business would like to be included in collection efforts, they can contact the local United Way office to contact our office at (724) 658-8528 or email us at unitedway @comcast.net.