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Making a Difference: Compassion Closet helps foster, adoptive families with necessities across East Tenn.

In 2020, Compassion Closet helped more than 2,000 children in foster, adoptive or kinship care.
Published: Mar. 15, 2021 at 4:44 PM EDT|Updated: Mar. 15, 2021 at 6:38 PM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - In 2020, Compassion Closet helped more than 2,000 children in foster, adoptive or kinship care.

The non-profit was started in 2013 and is an all volunteer and donation-based organization.

The organization helps foster, adoptive and kinship families pick up items for the kids for free.

“We had no idea what we were saying yes to. The mess, the trauma, the stresses, that you bring onto your own family, but you decide to walk through with other kids,” said Michael Clark.

A few years ago Clark, his wife and two biological kids began fostering children.

“When you get a call for a placement, you don’t know what age of a child you’re going to be potentially housing that night,” said Clark.

It’s this sense of urgency that makes a group like the Compassion Closet so vital.

All volunteer, and 100% funded through donation, Compassion Closet helps foster, adoptive and kinship kids get clothing, toiletries, baby supplies and more.

Kinship families care for children who are relatives to them.

“Reaching out to the folks at the Compassion Closet has always been just a sense of relief knowing that help is on the way,” said Clark.

Co-Founder, Melissa Cox, had the idea in 2013 when she started fostering kids.

“It’s been incredible,” said Cox.

They’ve helped thousands of kids feel a little more comfortable in a new environment.

“It’s a huge thing to do, to open your home and heart to children and so if we can give them just a little bit of peace and alleviate some of the stress that goes into it, that that’s why we do what we do,” explained Cox.

Families treat items like a library system, either passing items off to other families or returning them to the Compassion Closet.

It’s making a difference for Clark and his family, as they make a difference for foster kids.

“It’s more than just going and getting clothes and formula and physical things which you do need to serve that family, but it’s also the relationships that it puts in your life that really help you kind of have that sense of I’m not alone, I’m in this together with other families, I’m encouraged by the fact that wow, that lady just showed up in a huge van full of nine kids I can keep serving the four kids I have and maybe a few more. It’s just that sense that you walk away with we’re in this together,” said Clark.

East Tennessee’s three locations are growing and growing.

The organization has the following locations across East Tennessee:

  • 11020 Kingston Pike
  • 5600 Western Avenue NW
  • 303 Oak Ridge Turnpike

A fourth location will open in Campbell County in May. That address is: 604 W. Central Avenue in LaFollette.

For more information about donations and pick ups click here.

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