Arrow-right Camera

Washington Voices

Giving girl inspires kids clothing bank

Thu., Dec. 30, 2010

Debbie Wraspir  is surrounded by boxes and racks of clothes for kids in the basement of St. Luke Lutheran Church in north Spokane recently. She is opening a clothing bank for school-age kids.  (Jesse Tinsley)
Debbie Wraspir is surrounded by boxes and racks of clothes for kids in the basement of St. Luke Lutheran Church in north Spokane recently. She is opening a clothing bank for school-age kids. (Jesse Tinsley)

When Kira Wraspir went to bed on a Monday evening in March it was after a normal day of school and volleyball, friends and family, a day full of all her favorite things. So her mom, Debbie Wraspir, was a little surprised when Kira woke up and complained of her head hurting so badly she couldn’t sleep. Kira quickly got sicker, and her mother took her to the emergency room.

“I just had this little voice in the back of my head saying, ‘We need help, we need help,’ ” Debbie Wraspir said. “I don’t know if that was God or what that was, but I knew Kira was very sick.”

The visit to the emergency room revealed a slow-growing brain tumor just above Kira’s pituitary gland. It wasn’t cancer, but the tumor was pressing on Kira’s optic nerve. There was no way around brain surgery.

“The doctors told me they didn’t like to go into what they called ‘an angry brain,’ but we were trying to save her eyesight,” Wraspir said.

Kira came out of surgery fine, but then her brain began to swell.

“They couldn’t control the swelling. By Sunday she was dead,” Wraspir said. “The tumor could have been there for as many as 10 years, and there was no way we could have known anything about it.”

Kira was 12 years old.

“It happened so fast, almost from one day to the next,” Wraspir said.

One day, shortly after Kira’s death, Wraspir was flipping forward in her calendar to December pondering what to do. An Abraham Lincoln quote on the page caught her eye: “At the end it’s not the years in your life, it’s the life in your years.”

“I felt like I had to do something – I was going crazy – but I didn’t know what to do,” Wraspir said. “Kira loved people. She donated her hair to Locks For Love, twice, on her own. And she loved clothes.”

After talking to the girls in Kira’s Girl Scout troop, the idea for Kira’s Kloset, a clothing and book bank for children, began to take form.

Kira’s Kloset will open Jan. 15 and will operate the third Saturday of every month.

Surrounded by big plastic bins full of clean, labeled and organized children’s clothes, Wraspir sat recently in the basement of St. Luke Lutheran Church on North Division Street where the clothing bank is located.

“It will be open to anyone with a need,” she said. “We will ask for a name, age and a ZIP code, and give people a punch card for tracking purposes.” Kira’s Kloset has collection barrels at schools in the Mead School District, which Kira attended. And her Girl Scout troop has helped by donating Target gift cards.

“They get what they call ‘cookie dough’ when they sell cookies. This year the cookie dough was gift cards for Target, and they donated all the cards to Kira’s Kloset,” said Wraspir, adding that the troop has helped out with everything from decorating collection barrels to helping organize things.

Kira’s Kloset is a nonprofit organization registered through St. Luke Lutheran Church, where Wraspir has served as children’s ministry coordinator for nine years.

“It started as a prom dress thing, but now we focus entirely on kids,” she said. “And we have books, too. We hope people will donate books their children have outgrown.”

Clothing racks are being assembled and lined up. Coats, pants, dresses and tops are on hangers, organized by color and size. Any cash donations to Kira’s Kloset will go toward purchasing new underwear and socks for the clothing bank.

Wraspir occasionally trails off, saddened, teary, when she talks about Kira – but her determination is clear.

“I look around at all the bins and I think Kira would have loved it,” she said. “I think she would have been here, doing the exact same thing, if only she’d had a bit more time here.”

There is one comment on this story »