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Dressing Days outfits 1,147

More than 1,000 area students will have new outfits for the first day of school, thanks to the annual School Dressing Days event.

The Interfaith Community Council clothed 1,147 children last weekend, providing each child with new underwear and socks, jeans and T-shirts.

During the weekend, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Bragg Road transformed into a back-to-school shop, with tables of clothes, backpacks and shoes.

An anonymous donor provided enough backpacks for each child, said co-organizer Erin Faulconer. And New Vision Kingdom of God donated 362 pairs of new shoes.

Families in need could come to the event and choose a new outfit for each child. School Dressing Days has long been a harbinger of fall, since 1971 when Stafford County resident Gladys Ferguson visited area schools, looking for children whose families couldn’t afford new clothes.

She brought the list back to the Interfaith Community Council, and School Dressing Days began. The first event clothed 68 children.

For nearly 20 years, Ferguson stored plastic bins of underwear and socks in her living room.

Donations are now kept in plastic tubs in a Stafford County storage unit.

Organizers tried to clamp down on the event’s chaos by asking families to preregister. This allows organizers to get a handle on how many clothes to have ready.

Most of the nearly 500 families served did preregister, Faulconer said.

Amy Flowers Umble: 540/735-1973