Monday, September 16, 2013
DALLAS -- LaCreole Middle School sixth-grade teacher Kim Noack has seen it too many times: students coming to school in the same clothes day after day."We have a fairly good number of kids whose families are still struggling to make ends meet and I often see kids wearing the same jeans or the same T-shirt," she said. "Middle school can be pretty brutal, so you want to not be the kid who comes to school in the same clothing every day."Troubled by the trend, Noack decided to help those students after reading a story about a free clothing closet set up in a Beaverton school.LaCreole had an empty records room that she thought could be repurposed into a closet stocked with age- and school-appropriate clothing for students in need. LaCreole Principal Jamie Richardson gave Noack the go-ahead on the project last winter, so her family spent 10 hours one day during Christmas break building what is known as "The Closet.""I designed the clothing racks and talked my husband and my oldest son into helping me," Noack said. "I'm more excited this year to see it become full of clothing and shoes and things that kids could actually use."Noack said the closet isn't quite up and running -- although some families have already been given items -- but with several donations coming in over the summer, it should be ready soon.She said the plan is to form a student club to help manage the closet and keep it clean. Teachers and members of nearby Dallas United Methodist Church have volunteered to wash donated clothes to have them ready for students."It's good to see that people are willing to give to our schools for kids who are in need," said seventh-grader MacKenzie McIntyre, a member of LaCreole's leadership class who helped sort and hang clothes last week. "Some of these things look like they are new."Leadership students said they believed there is a need for The Closet at their school."Especially with the winter coming," said seventh-grader Kelara Halcom. "Kids will need warmer clothes."Rhonda Hays, LaCreole's registrar, said donations have been steady and she anticipates more requests for help as the word spreads about The Closet.Noack said she eventually would like to see students whose parents haven't made a request be able to use the resource on a referral basis."If a child needs something, a teacher can talk to the counselors, and they can let them go and shop in The Closet," she said. "They can take what they need and not have to worry about bringing it back. It's theirs."Noack said The Closet is in need of donations in a wide variety of sizes, from girls and boys size 12 to men's and women's sizes XXL. Shoes are in need, too."I think it's a nice way for people who have middle school kids or just recently had middle school kids to donate clothing that doesn't look completely out of fashion," Noack said. "The purpose of it is not to have the kids stand out more, but to feel like they fit in."