CLEVELAND — Right now more than 40% of Cleveland kids live in poverty. And that may mean they're not receiving new underwear as often as they should.
According to Undies for Everyone, not having access to clean underwear can put children behind in school, impacting them emotionally and socially.
"Underwear isn't just - it's not just underwear. It is a basic dignity that many of us take for granted," said Rabbi Amy Coben Weiss. Weiss officially launched Undies for Everyone in Houston in 2012 after a social worker alerted her to the growing need in 2009.
"So I blogged about it and some people drop off some underwear and some money," she recalled.
Fast forward nine years — the organization has helped thousands of children who need fresh undergarments.
"This year we'll give away 700,038 pairs," Weiss said. "We give every child a bag of seven pair."
Undies for Everyone is now serving 15 cities in the U.S. - including Cleveland. The nonprofit is partnering with CMSD, supporting students who are enrolled in the federally mandated homeless department. This weekend hundreds of Cleveland children will receive their seven pairs.
Weiss, who's originally from University Heights, said as long as the need is there, they will work to expand, getting new underwear to kids keeping them focused in the classroom and beyond.
"There is a study that was done, and 55% of the kids interviewed said they would not, they were too embarrassed, to attend school if they did not have the right underwear," she said. "Literally, this need is all over the country since we're the only ones doing it. So we just continue to see when we get support, as we get support, just expanding all over the country."
Undies for Everyone accepts monetary donations on their website. They also encourage companies to get involved by helping to pack and donate pairs in their community. Click here for more information.