School Clothes 4 Kids Program Accepting Applications in Belmont County | News, Sports, Jobs

Photo by: Robert A. DeFrank

Belmont County Department of Job and Family Services Director Jeff Felton, foreground, reports receiving applications for the School Clothes 4 Kids program, with purchases to be made before the first day of school. Frank Shaffer, Pultney Township Trustee, watches.

Belmont County is again helping students start the school year with the annual School Clothes 4 Kids program, using funds from Temporary Assistance for Needy Families.

Belmont County Job and Family Services Director Jeff Felton and DJFS Chief Financial Officer Jack Regis Jr. briefed the Belmont County Board of County Commissioners on Wednesday of plans to get the word out to families. Felton said the program is available to people whose income is at or below 150 percent of the federal poverty level.

“It is a well-received program. People are very, very appreciative when they walk in,” Felton said. He said the show dates from around 2014 or 2015.

Felton said the students are particularly appreciative of starting the school year in new clothes. With that in mind, the program is starting early this year.

“Last year we didn’t start taking off until probably October, so we’re trying to get fresh, before school starts, which we should have done last year,” he said. “We are ahead of the game compared to last year. It’s a program we run every year. Fortunately, most counties have excess TANF dollars, that’s our largest allocation, and instead of giving it back to the state, we try to use it in our community.”

Felton added that there are two clothing programs. One is for kinship providers such as grandparents, aunts, and uncles who have related children placed with them.

“We have a separate allowance for family support, and this is only for the general public who qualify based on income,” Felton said.

“Last year, roughly between our two programs plus the money the Community Action Commission helps families who are just above the 150 percent poverty level and not eligible for TANF, we raised nearly $725,000 in the Ohio Valley. Mall,” Regis said, adding that this demonstrated a benefit to the local economy.

“The mall has been wonderful to work with,” Felton said.

He said that they started distributing the days of the show due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as the clothes had to be quarantined after trying on. They noted positive changes, including a lack of long lines and crowds.

“I think it’s easier on the staff and definitely easier on the families,” he said.

“They can choose it themselves,” Felton said. “It is for kindergarten up to 18 years old, so we can serve the entire school-age population.

Felton said applications can be taken at the St. Clairsville DJFS office and the Ohio Means Jobs Martins Ferry office until 4:30 p.m. on July 19. Shopping days will likely be August 9-11 and August 16-18.

The St. Clairsville office is located at 68145 Hammond Road, and the Martins Ferry office at the Ohio Means Jobs Center is at 302 Walnut St. Application forms can also be downloaded and printed from

Felton added that those families who are unable to participate on the designated days will be accommodated.

“Once we process the eligibility, we will assign shopping days and give them a gift card,” Felton said. “Everyone is looking forward to it. I know we’ve started getting calls. We are happy to make that announcement.”

The gift cards are worth $300. Felton said all vendors in the mall accept the gift cards, as well as Gabe’s clothing and shoe store on the mall property.

Felton said they could hold the event at the same time as the Monroe County clothing show. He said about 1,800 children received assistance last year, with about the same turnout expected this year.

“We have enough funding to meet the needs, no matter what the number is, whether it’s 1,800 or 2,000, we’re not going to turn anyone away,” Felton said. “With the economic situation and COVID, people are still struggling.”

“It’s a great program and it has a huge impact on a lot of kids,” Commissioner Josh Meyer said. “…I love the idea that we’re going to have this before school starts. … It is worth the time and effort invested in it. … There are a lot of very grateful people.”

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