On Sunday afternoons, Ralston Public Schools media specialist Dee Adams can be found sorting clothes, handing out baked goods and chatting with everyone.

Adams has been an integral part in getting Trinity United Methodist Church’s Lost and Found Clothing Center off the ground. The Lost and Found marks its fifth anniversary this month.

Adams had the idea after chatting with parents at a PTO meeting.

“I was at a Meadows Elementary PTO meeting and moms were saying ‘Wouldn’t it be nice if we could hand out clothes?’” Adams said. “Our church had just built this community center and the basement was empty except for a washer and dryer.”

Adams, who is the media specialist at multiple RPS elementary schools, saw the clothes left in each schools’ lost and found and the idea all started to come together. After checking with school principals and Trinity’s pastors, she and a few other members got to work on starting up the clothing center.

“Everybody just said ‘Go’ so we just went for it,” she said.

The Lost and Found Clothing Center, 8009 Q St., has clothes, diapers, shoes, books and even some baked goods families can take free of charge when it’s open every Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m.

At the end of each school year, Adams takes her husband’s pickup truck and fills it with clothes from all the RPS schools’ lost and found bins. She and some volunteers will also go every Sunday to Hy-Vee and get their expired bakery items that are still good to eat, but too old to sell.

Adams has worked the clothing center nearly every Sunday the past five years.

“I think I’ve missed three times in five years and that’s because it was a blizzard outside and I couldn’t see my front porch,” Adams said with a laugh. “It’s exhilarating and it’s exciting.”

In those five years, the lost and found has nearly doubled in size, serving people of all ages.

“Up to this point, we’ve served 1,137 children and almost 700 families,” she said. “That’s exciting that we got clothes to those people.”

Recently, Adams was recognized with the Jefferson Award for Public Service, having been nominated by RPS parent and Girl Scout troop co-leader Julie Johnson. She nominated Adams after her daughter’s troop came to help sort clothes at the lost and found.

“We were switching summer to winter stuff. That was September or October,” Adams said. “She kept asking questions but that was it.”

Adams was awarded a certificate and a medal from the Jefferson Award Foundation. Receiving the award would not have been possible without help from many others, she said, including Hy-Vee, church pastors and volunteers.

“Thank you to all the people who have donated. Without the stuff, we wouldn’t exist,” she said.

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