As teachers, we all have come across students who wear the same, maybe unwashed, clothes to school every day, the students who miss school often, and the students who struggle with low self-esteem to the point where academics are severely impacted. Our immediate instinct is to help because we want every student who walks into our classroom to feel secure and confident. Unfortunately, on a teacher’s salary and limited resources, we can’t personally afford to clothe every student in need. What else can be done? Your school needs Catie’s Closet.
Having Catie’s Closet in your school gives students direct and immediate access to the materials that they need whether it is toiletries for the weekend a dress to wear to the dance Friday night, or a fresh wardrobe for the new season. This eliminates a major obstacle, the need for additional transportation, which can be extremely difficult for students who are already living in poverty. To this day Catie’s Closet helps more than 25,000 students daily at 37 schools in MA and NH. Your school can be next!
Last month, the MTA New Members Committee hosted their first Day of Service event at Catie’s Closet in Dracut, MA. A our group of committee members, MTA staff and even some of our family members spent a few hours sorting through mountains of donations. One group opened bags and sorted through clothes, shoes, toiletries and accessories while another group folded pants and put shirts and dresses on hangers. We all left extremely impressed with this amazing organization.
During our time there, we learned how Catie’s Closet provides clothing and toiletries to students right within their school. Think of it like a mini clothing store hidden away in your building and students who are identified as in-need are able to go “shopping”, free of charge. There they will find current trends in clothing. One of the major differences between other donation centers and Catie’s Closet is the care the organizers and volunteers take in choosing the articles of clothing suitable for the specific age group. You won’t find your grandmother’s clothes (unless she’s super cool) in any Catie’s Closet. Volunteers (like us!) keep a finger on the pulse of current style trends and know what the kids are wearing. Remember, their goal is to increase students’ self esteem, not single them out.
At this point, a few things may be running through your mind…
… I want to volunteer at this impressive organization!
That’s what we thought, too! Upon our arrival at their distribution center in Dracut MA, we were greeted with friendly faces, given the run-down on what we were going to be doing, and then put to work. Which didn’t at all feel like work. It was possibly the most fun that I had ever had volunteering. My favorite part was sorting through the bags of donated clothes and determining what items were worthy of Catie’s Closet’s clients and which ones go back into the re-donation bin.
We were not the only ones there that Saturday, either. There were other drop-in volunteers and regulars. Everyone was super friendly and the overall positive atmosphere was contagious. I not only recommend volunteering, but I will be going back myself to do so. Have children? Show them how communities come together to support one another by bringing them down to volunteer as well.
… I don’t have the time to volunteer, BUT I want to help!
Great! There are several different ways to do this.
- You can drop your clothes off at their distribution center in Dracut, MA. They will even come out and help you with your haul.
- Make monthly donations! For as little as $15 per month, you can provide a year’s supply of toiletries, undergarments and seasonally appropriate clothing to the children in your community.
- Host a drive! There is a step by step how-to for you to follow on their website. (Bonus: This is a great leadership opportunity for you to engage parents, community, students and teachers in a school-based activity!)
… My school NEEDS this!
Does your school have a 50% or more poverty rate? Does your building have an unused room? Do you want to increase student attendance and self esteem while lowering the occurrences of bullying? Sounds like Catie’s Closet needs to be there! Contact them and get started on your way to making a positive impact on your students, TODAY!
Post written by Nichole Masse, a MTA New Member Committee Member and Grade 7 Humanities Teacher at Groton-Dunstable Regional Middle School. You can follow Nichole on Twitter: @MasseNikki
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