Pat Ford and her husband, Bill, moved to SaddleBrooke in 2000. Having been a school principal for 20-years, her interest was immediately peaked when she saw children’s clothing being stored in the garages of SaddleBrooke model homes. On a weekly basis, Pat, Bill, and another volunteer would gather up the clothing, put it in their truck and drive o Mammoth. There, they would hang the clothing in one of the school’s unused classrooms so children could choose what they wanted. In that location, there was only one dressing room and only enough room for twelve volunteers. The space was so small that volunteers were practically crawling over one another. To save space, the volunteers would eat their lunches outside, regardless of the weather.

When Nan Nasser became president of SaddleBrooke Community Outreach, Pat became vice president and then went on to serve as Kids’ Closet director for eight years. For the first six or seven of those years, the program was located in a larger space inside the abandoned junior high school in San Manuel. While the space was larger, the only restrooms were on the other side of the building, down a long dark corridor, a frightening walk for the young children. Finally, the SBCO board decided to leave the deserted building and build a Kids’ Closet facility in Mammoth. Pat stayed on as director for another year to help establish Kids’ Closet in its current location. Then, she took a temporary retirement. “I loved it!” she says. “I was away for two-years, but now I am back. I do whatever is needed to help out.”

Providing children with new school clothing has been an ever-changing process. Pat noted, “It was so difficult during the pandemic. We had to get names and sizes from the school and bag up clothing, never sure if the clothing really fit, or if the children really liked what they got. We have returned to our regular procedures this fall, so children get the pleasure of choosing their clothing. One thing that has not changed over the years is the need.”

“A couple of years ago a second-grade boy came into the office so excited, with tears in his eyes. ‘I got my own toothbrush!’ he said. Previously, the whole family had been sharing one. More recently, a young girl burst into the office reporting, ‘I got my clothes! I got my clothes! Can I show you?’ She pulled panties out of the bag and said, ‘I have my OWN pantaletas!’”

If you would like to become an SBCO volunteer, please visit go online and visit Become a member (it’s FREE) and indicate your areas of interest. There are many options, from “once or twice a year” activities to longer-term commitments. As a volunteer, you can help provide local kids with the food, clothing, enrichment and education opportunities they need to succeed. And you might gain as much—or more—from the experience than you give.

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