TAMPA BAY - The Tampa Bay Lightning honored Marie McClung and Jode Eye as Lightning Community Heroes during the first period of tonight's game against the San Jose Sharks. McClung and Eye, who received a $50,000 donation from the Lightning Foundation and the Lightning Community Heroes program, will contribute the money to their charity of choice, Clothes To Kids.
As a first grade teacher, Eye saw first-hand the alarming number of students coming to school wearing ill-fitting, worn out clothes with holes in their shoes and no coats to wear in the winter. In 2002, Eye shared her concern with her high school friend, McClung, and together, they decided to co-found Clothes To Kids, which has provided 65,000 school uniforms to low-income children in Pinellas County, free of charge. After recruiting family members and friends to help out with their homegrown initiative, Clothes to Kids has grown in just 10 years and now distributes nearly 12,000 uniforms annually while operating out of two locations throughout the Bay Area.
Today, Clothes To Kids is recognized as a "first responder" by Pinellas County Schools, local law enforcement outlets, social service agencies and homeless shelters when there is an urgent need for children's clothing. Both McClung and Eye worked diligently to launch the initiative, recruiting volunteers, identifying eligible shoppers, gathering donations, and operating the store. They have previously served on the Clothes To Kids Board of Directors, and are still actively involved in the organization, currently developing a template to launch additional stores nationwide.