Two Wilmington moms host ‘Autism Closet Exchange’

Two Wilmington moms host ‘Autism Closet Exchange’

WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - Two Wilmington moms are teaming up for a special project in hopes of making every child feel excited and comfortable this holiday season.

The two are asking community members with loved ones on the spectrum and without to consider donating certain items like weighted blankets, weighted stuffed animals, fidget toys, bite bands, sensory swings, fidget tools, soft clothing without tags and more.
The two are asking community members with loved ones on the spectrum and without to consider donating certain items like weighted blankets, weighted stuffed animals, fidget toys, bite bands, sensory swings, fidget tools, soft clothing without tags and more. (Source: WECT)

Christy Tondeur and Maya Deleon have children with autism and wanted to do something to help others with family members on the spectrum.

“Every child deserves to be comfortable in their own skin,” Tondeur said.

The two are asking community members with loved ones on the spectrum and without to consider donating certain items like weighted blankets, weighted stuffed animals, fidget toys, bite bands, sensory swings, fidget tools, soft clothing without tags and more.

“We’re trying to bring the Wilmington community together and ask them if they have family members on the spectrum and they have a closet full of items they’re not using anymore we would love them to donate. If there’s other people in Wilmington who have been given gifts, a weighted blanket, and they don’t like them and use them please donate,” Tondeur said

The items can be dropped off at Seaside Bagels, the Friends School of Wilmington, or Oasis NC, and will be used for an Autism Closet Exchange on Dec. 21 from 10 a.m. to noon at Friends School of Wilmington. Families can browse available items suitable for young children through adults.

Tondeur and Deleon made sure the event would be accessible to all — Friends School of Wilmington is along a bus route and has offered to provide transportation from the bus stop to the school, as well as childcare.

“One of the big reasons I wanted to do it before the holidays is because oftentimes families give gifts to kids or adults on the spectrum things that they need instead of want...because the items are so expensive,” Tondeur said.

Most items that can have life changing impacts for individuals with autism are not covered by insurance.

“We want to help alleviate some of that financial burden so these families can maybe take some of their money and put it towards wants, fun things, and not have to worry about all these things their child needs on a daily basis,” she explained.

If you do not have these items but still wish to help contribute to the Autism Closet Exchange, the two moms have created an Amazon wish list and will also be accepting cash donations.

“On our Facebook event page, we created an Amazon wish list so people can have an idea of items that we’re looking for that they might have in their house and if people don’t have the items but want to participate and donate those items those are examples of things that we need," she said.

Any items that are not claimed will be dispersed throughout the community or donated to a local charity after the event.

“It’s not uncommon to get a weighted blanket, or a swing, or a vest and sew whatever the kid is into on it to personalize it and try to get them excited about it,” Tondeur said. “These items, even just a pair of headphones can be life changing for a child. A bite band, a chewing toy can make it so they can pay attention and learn something in school. So they may seem like small things for us who don’t need them but for these kids it’s life changing on a daily basis.”

If you would like to volunteer to help at the event, you can contact Tondeur and Deleon on their Facebook event page.

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