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Latavia's Closet in Cusseta
helps kids get ready for school

Click here for an online photo gallery from the event!

From the August 18, 2021 issue
of The Journal

By Richard Harris
   The 2021 school year is getting off to a better start for around 150 local children thanks to the Latavia's Closet Back-to-School Bash held last Saturday in the Robinson Recreation Center in Cusseta.
   The entire back wall of the center/gym was covered with a wide array of children's clothes and shoes from the "Closet", while the rest of the gym was lined with tables full of supplies and helpful information provided by partners in the event.
   There was even a room set aside for free haircuts by barber Shannon Buckner, who in addition to styling hair just as requested, offered friendly advice and encouragement to his clients. While working on their hair, he asked them about themselves and told them things like, "Don't take the easy way out. Take science and math classes. Don't close any doors to yourself by not taking hard classes."
   Marvin Broadwater, Sr., a member of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity that assisted Buckner, was very moved by the experience.
   "I joined a group of community activists in nearby Cusseta …" he posted on social

media. "I identify with this town because I am from a small town (Camilla). One young man brought tears to my eyes when he said, 'This is my first pair of Jordan sneakers.' That was me. I didn't receive my first pair of Converse sneakers until I was 15. … Thank you God, sponsors, and community workers."
   Latavia's Closet Co-President Shirley Jones was too busy to get very emotional during the event, but afterwards reflected on how successful it was.
   "We planned this for three months," she said. "I was really nervous starting off that morning, but at the end of the day it was awesome."
   She also thought of how it was a very special tribute to Latavia, whom she raised and for whom the Closet is named in memory of.
   "My heart was full to see all the people and the kids who came out," she said. "I really wish Latavia was here to see that, but I know this was the best thing I could have done for her memory. I just know God is going to take this closet even further than I can see."
   It certainly has the support of a lot of people and organizations. Sponsors/participants included: UGA Extension/4H Club, United Way, Kinship Program, Cusseta-Chattahoochee County Public Library, Big Brothers & Big Sisters of the Chattahoochee Valley, Zumba by Gwendolyn Davis, AlaTrade, Bethel AMEC Church, Kingsville Baptist Church, New St. Mathis Church, Columbus Wellness Center (Swagga & Lace), New Horizon, Shannon Buckner (Barber), Marvin Broadwater (Omega Psi Phi), Youth Villages, Safe Kids, Enrichment Services, and Philly Phreeze (ice cream truck - first 50 free). If anyone was left off this list, please forgive the oversight and know that you are appreciated.
   While many of the volunteers were adults, there was also a considerable number of young people who helped. One group that played a big role was the Chattahoochee County High School Future Busines Leaders of America (FBLA). They helped move and set up all of the clothing and shoes in the Recreation Center and assisted "shoppers" throughout the event.
   "FBLA did an awesome job with Latavia's Closet, helping everything get moved so smoothly," said Mrs. Jones.
   If anyone missed the Back-to-School Bash and still needs help with clothes for kids, Latavia's Closet is located behind the James P. Thornton Memorial Building (County Government) on McNaughton Street in Cusseta (in the former Ceramics Shop). It is open on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to noon (and also opens as needed for emergency situations). For more information contact Shirley Jones at 229-314-6209.
   In addition to the regular operation of the Closet, the nonprofit organization is gearing up for a Coat and Hoodie Drive during the month of September to help kids have something warm to wear when the weather starts cooling off. Hoodies and coats will be accepted at the Closet on Thursday from 10 a.m. to noon and on Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon. Donations are tax deductible.
   Members of the Latavia's Closet Board are Co-Presidents Shirley Jones and Wesley Jones, Vice President Richard Harris, Secretaries Monezl Spivey & Charelle Davis, Treasurer Mattye Kinney, Supervisor Gwenetta Echols, and members Elizabeth Dotson and Queen Spivey. Volunteers are welcome.