SaddleBrooke Community Outreach

Kris Sallee puts her love of children to work as both a buyer and day manager for SBCO’s Kids’ Closet.

Volunteer Motivated by Love of ‘The Kids’

Nancy McCluskey-Moore

Kris Sallee moved to SaddleBrooke four years ago from San Diego. For 29 years, she worked as a bookkeeper and auditor for Vons, a grocery store chain now owned by Safeway. Before retiring, she worked in accounting for a nonprofit mental health system. For many of her working years, Kris was also a single mother of a son and a daughter.

Kris learned about SaddleBrooke Community Outreach (SBCO) from a friend who told her there was a “local children’s charity.” With no grandchildren of her own, Kris saw this as an opportunity to help young children thrive. She plunged in, becoming the buyer for adult-sized clothing for the Kids’ Closet’s fall season and “SUE” (socks, underwear, and essentials like soap, toothpaste, and toothbrushes) for both the spring and fall seasons. Now she also serves as the Kids’ Closet Thursday day co-manager (along with Bea Dilahunt) in both spring and fall. Each session lasts for approximately 10 weeks.

As a day manager, she is responsible for labeling plastic bags with the children’s names and attaching them, along with each child’s information sheet, to a clipboard. The sheet provides basic information about the child, including name, age, grade in school, and—if the child has come to Kids’ Closet before—his/her most recent clothing and shoe sizes. At the end of each Thursday session, Kris and Bea assemble and review each child’s paperwork for completeness prior to submitting it to Marcia Van Omeran for data entry. Kris credits Michelle Schroeder, who manages and trouble shoots the point-of-sale system used to track Kids’ Closet inventory, with being “tactful and caring” when problems arise.

According to Kris, all the benefits she receives from her volunteer work with Kids’ Closet far exceed the effort involved. “You can see the need right in front of you. The kids come in wearing clothing from past seasons, so you know they appreciated what they were given. I feel blessed to be able to do this work.” Her time at “The Closet” has yielded some memorable moments. “The Pre-K kids are always a joy. They are enchanted by the whole concept of choosing their shoes and clothing. One little girl put on a full outfit of new clothes, stood in front of the mirror, and declared, “It’s perfect!” One time when some first graders came for clothing, there was confusion about names. A little girl was worried her name wouldn’t be called. She said, “I have been waiting my whole life to come here.” She was the last to shop, but certainly among the happiest to board the bus, laden with a bag filled with new shoes and clothing.

Kris encourages others to volunteer for SBCO and the Kids’ Closet program. “Across the board, everything is managed efficiently, ensuring that volunteers can be effective and the programs succeed.”

SBCO Scholarship recipient Elizabeth Ziegler is on track to becoming a veterinarian.

Future Veterinarian Is Thankful for Her SBCO Scholarship

Mary Riemersma

Elizabeth Ziegler, a SaddleBrooke Community Outreach (SBCO) scholarship recipient, says, “When I was in high school and applied for the scholarship and got it, I was so excited. But looking back, I had no idea just how much the scholarship was going to help me.” Elizabeth is currently a senior at Northern Arizona University with a major in biology. Initially she thought she had wanted to become a physician’s assistant, but as time went on, she realized that was not her passion. Becoming a veterinarian was in her heart, especially given her experiences with animals during her youth. She plans to pursue this dream at the University of Arizona.

During the peak of COVID, when NAU had transitioned to fully online studies, Elizabeth found herself struggling to keep up. Then her mother was diagnosed with cancer, and she thought her dreams were dashed. Her grades suffered, and she was afraid she might lose her scholarships. She says, “I was planning on dropping out if I lost the SBCO and other scholarships.” But the scholarships continued, which allowed her to progress to her senior year.

Elizabeth says, “Overall, college has been one of the best experiences of my life, and I cannot wait to continue my college journey.” During her freshman year, Elizabeth expanded her horizons by joining the marching band and later the pep band. These extracurricular experiences helped her to forge lasting friendships and to feel comfortable with college life. But she admits, “If it were not for the SBCO scholarship, I do not believe that my college experience would be such a happy memory.”

If you would like to help students like Elizabeth, please consider making a contribution or providing a gift to the SaddleBrooke Community Outreach Scholarship Endowment Program. All contributions to the endowment fund must be made payable to the Community Foundation of Southern Arizona (CFSA) and designated for the “SBCO Scholarship Endowment Fund.” (CFSA’s Tax ID is 94-2681765.) The minimum contribution to the fund is $5,000.

Tax-deductible donations can be made any of four ways:

* A personal check—send directly to CFSA—made payable to Community Foundation of Southern Arizona with “SBCO Endowment” in the memo line

* A distribution from your IRA to CFSA—for the SBCO Scholarship Endowment Fund

* Include CFSA as the manager of the SBCO Scholarship Endowment Fund as a beneficiary in your trust or estate plan

* In-kind contributions (e.g., stock, securities, real estate, autos)

Send donations to The Community Foundation of Southern Arizona, SBCO Scholarship Endowment Fund, 5049 E. Broadway, Suite 201, Tucson, AZ 85711.

For more information, send an email to [email protected] or call the SBCO office at 520-825-3302.

SBCO Teen Closet Assists Local High School Students

Vivian Enrico

In January Teen Closet members from six high schools met at the Target store in Oro Valley. After studying hard and performing six hours of community service during the previous semester, 50 students qualified for a $200 shopping experience. An adult SBCO volunteer accompanied each student as they made their selections at both the Target and Ross Dress for Less stores. At the end of the evening, the teens and their adult shopping assistants smiled and hugged goodbye. Most of the adult volunteers said they had so much fun that they wanted to help at the next Teen Closet.

The concept for Teen Closet began as an offshoot of Kids’ Closet in 2001. The following year, seven students in the Catalina community received a school wardrobe. In the ensuing years, teens attending Canyon de Oro and Ironwood Ridge, the two schools that serve the Catalina and Oracle communities, were the invited to join Teen Closet, bringing the total number of wardrobes purchased to 644 by 2017. The following year, the SBCO Board voted to extend the Teen Closet service area to include the students attending San Manuel High School. After that, the board authorized the addition of Hayden Winkelman, Ray, and Superior High Schools, bringing the total number of schools served to six. To date, 1,080 wardrobes have been purchased by Teen Closet students. During the height of the COVID pandemic, eligible students received gift cards instead of in-person shopping to keep the teens, their families, and our SBCO volunteers safe.

True to the SBCO mission of providing opportunities for kids to succeed, Teen Closet has given teenagers the opportunity to attend school with pride of person, knowing that they have earned this benefit through their hard work and mindfulness of the needs of others in their community.