Revere opens donated clothing facility

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Sydney McDonald

Some of the clothing options available for community members in need.

Sydney McDonald, Assistant Feature Editor

The exterior of the Heart of Revere. (Sydney McDonald)

Two PTA members opened “Heart of Revere” to offer donated clothing to children and families of Revere in need throughout the year. 

On May fourth, Torina White and Katie Downing cut the ribbon for the Heart of Revere for gently used clothes. Bonnie Simonelli coordinates the collection boxes at Revere High School and explained when the women contacted her.

“They approached me back in October after the school year started. They had this idea to collect clothing through the schools then take it home,” Simonelli said. 

At that time the women did not have a location for the donated clothing and had to hold it at their homes. Simonelli’s role is to contact students and advertise the closet for the whole district.

“My job is really to advertise it and get it out to the students, hopefully we can reach out to kids and their families. I can drive them over there and coordinate the donations to be there, if they need me to open the door,” Simonelli said. 

Originally, they were planning to run the organization in an area in the high school, but that area was occupied by other activities. When starting, all three of the women agreed that finding a location was their major problem. 

“What happened was initially the ‘Heart of Revere’ was going to be in the high school, but the space that we had available to use was in the gym, and we almost got kicked out of there because there was a golf simulator. It was good that Katie and Torina found a [new] place,” Simonelli said. 

This small building, located on Ira road behind another small business, has a parking lot where people can come and drop off clothes.

“I spoke with the owner, and they gave the space to us for free,” White said. 

They were given the building and had to add fixtures and paintings on their own accord. Downing added that they have to pay the electricity bill for the time they owned the space. 

“We’re just responsible for the electricity, but other than that we can rent it until we no longer need it,” Downing said. 

Before they acquired the building, they had this idea for the organization long before contacting Simonelli or setting up in Revere High School. 

“Me and another parent at the Bath PTA when I worked there a couple of years ago had talked about it, but we never got it going. Because of parents asking for items, we thought, well why not just start a program for the district,” White said. 

Other than opening the building for donations, there are also dressing rooms for students to try on the items they need, especially during prom season. 

“There’s dressing rooms, so families and students can come during the day so Simonelli can walk them here or drive them over and be with them or if they’re okay meeting with [us,] Downing and I can meet them here. They’re welcome to try on items,” White said. 

White and Downing hope to plan activities for prom or homecoming next year, as this year was difficult to plan for. 

“We’d like to do something for the prom, so I was really hoping to do a hair and makeup day, but it was hard to have that for this year. Next year we would love maybe homecoming or any other formals that are at either school and offer something like that for the students,” Downing said. 

The building is open year round and can be accessed by multiple people. If any student or person wants to donate clothing or money to this organization, they can ask the two organizers or counselors in each building. 

“Each counselor at all the schools has a key to come into the building, so they can contact their school counselor also if it is more convenient for them,” White said. 

Both women ultimately want to spread the word of this organization in order to reach kids and families in need to provide clothing or other items to them. People can contact White, Downing or Simonelli through their respective emails and social media accounts.