Laurie Davis looks through some of the personal needs items collected at the Marysville High School Clothes Closet. The operation offers clothing, shoes and personal hygiene items to students in need.
(Journal-Tribune photo by Chad Williamson)
The only thing Marysville High School Clothes Closet organizers collect faster than T-shirts are stories, both sad and sweet.
Tucked down a lesser-used hallway of the high school, the two-room operation allows students to select from donated garments, shoes and personal hygiene products. Threads, denim, cotton and hangers fill the rooms but the charitable endeavor is built on a foundation of compassion and understanding.
The Clothes Closet, in its second year of operation, is the creation of three aides who saw an area where student needs were not being met. Organizers Laurie Davis, Terri Bowen and Angie Myers can recall in vivid detail some of the interactions that drive them to donate so much of their time.
Davis happened on a girl outside the building after school one afternoon. The girl was in tears because she could not afford feminine products. After taking her to get what she needed, Davis realized items like deodorant, soap, shampoo, toothpaste and toothbrushes should also be provided at the operation.
The three women recently helped supply an entire family that had moved to Ohio after being displaced by Hurricane Irma. Though living with family members, the new residents had no cold weather clothing.
It was brought to the trio’s attention that one student was wearing a pair of old shoes that had belonged to his grandfather. Because of the size of the boy’s feet they couldn’t find anything to fit him, but an administrator offered to purchase a new pair of shoes for him.
“He was in tears,” Davis said.
Another boy visited the operation simply to get a clean shirt.
“He said ‘mom hasn’t been able to get to the laundromat and I have been wearing this shirt forever,” Bowen recalled.
The women helped one large boy find some pants and shirts in the inventory, but learned that what he really wanted was a hooded sweatshirt, or “hoodie,” he could wear. No such garments in the inventory would fit him, but they used some donated money to purchase one for him.
Bowen said after the receiving his “hoodie” the boy seemed to take a little more pride in his appearance, combing his hair and looking more “cleaned up.”
“He just changed,” Bowen said. “And he’s staying that way.”
Davis mentioned a freshman girl who visited the Closet and was able to find a dress for the recent homecoming dance.
“She put her hand on me and said ‘you don’t know what this means to me,” Davis said.
Last year the Clothes Closet took in so many donated dresses, more than 150, that after prom season at MHS the extras were taken to North Union so members of their student body could look through them if needed.
“Growing up, I never had to think that I wasn’t going to go to a dance because I didn’t have a dress,” Davis said. “And we weren’t rich.”
Students are allowed look through garments during lunch periods, but often teachers will alert them to a student in need. The operation is set up so that students can discretely look through the garments, but the organizers said few students seem embarrassed to make a selection and often times they come back, sometimes bringing a friend who is in need.
“It’s a revolving door,” Bowen said. “It gets a lot of use.”
Davis said the operation has never had anyone abuse the charitable spirit of the Closet.
“They basically just get what they feel they need,” Davis said.
Myers agreed, recalling one boy who came in and asked only for a single pair of socks.
“I said ‘No, go ahead, honey, and take the whole pack,’” Myers said.
The main office of the high school serves as the drop off point for donated clothing. The women have been surprised by the quality of the items which have been donated.
“We even get things with the tag still on them,” Davis said.
Aside from garments, the operation has also been fortunate to receive cash donations from local organizations. The money is a desperate need to help the organizers purchase not only the stocked personal hygiene products, but also socks and undergarments – both of which can not be accepted if they have been previously worn.
The women said the operation also has an urgent need for more teen appropriate clothing, as many of the donated items come from adults.
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