Wear ‘n Share was created in June of 2009 by Kerri Howell, a stay-at-home mom living in East Amherst, New York. The idea was first conceived while reading an article about a teacher who said she had students who could not attend her school because their parents couldn’t afford shoes for them to wear. Knowing her own children had barely worn outgrown shoes and clothing collecting dust in the basement, she felt compelled to find a way to get them to the kids who needed them. After further research learning that Buffalo’s poverty is the 3rd highest in the country, Kerri realized there was more to be done than just her children could provide and she felt an innate desire to try to make a difference. When she initiated discussions with other mothers, many wanted to help, but didn’t know how to reach the families in need. That’s where Wear ‘n Share comes in. She decided her mission was to be the connection between the communities wanting to help and the families in need.
Kerri began to reach out to the local community to collect donations of new and gently used children’s clothing, coats, and shoes to deliver to children and families in need in Buffalo and surrounding areas. She was immediately overwhelmed by the generosity of the community. She then began contacting local charitable organizations, agencies, schools, and churches who work with families needing assistance to let them know Wear ‘n Share is here to help. She is now working with over 100 that serve families in need. Through collaboration with these partners, in 9 years Wear ‘n Share has helped over 7,000 families who have suffered house fires, single mothers trying to make ends meet, homeless children, and families who have felt the impact through job loss in these tough economic times, just to name a few. The stories are many and the needs are great, which is why Kerri feels this ministry is so important to our community. It is her hope to never turn away any family or child in true need of clothing.
In August of 2010 Wear ‘n Share was blessed with a larger space in which to house their children’s clothing. Due to the incredible generosity of our community, Kerri had outgrown her start-up location and needed more room in order to continue this ministry. Wear ‘n Share is currently operating out of Epiphany United Church of Christ’s Community Outreach Building. which kindly opened their doors to local organizations who reach out to help children and families in need of assistance.
Kerri’s only request from the families she assists is “for them to keep the circle of giving going by helping someone else in need through a kind gesture or act….just pay it forward. A simple act of kindness can go a long way in changing one’s outlook on life and faith in humanity”.