Spokane teen Cassiady Lenhert owned only one pair of shoes, a couple of T-shirts, a few pairs of pants and a sweatshirt. She said she was thrilled to learn about Spokane Public Schools’ newly created clothing bank for homeless students.
“This idea is actually pretty cool. A lot of my friends are ecstatic about it,” said Lenhert, 15. “This is what I need because at the beginning of the year, I’m like, do you have any shoes?”
The clothing bank opened last week in a portable classroom behind the district’s Community School at Havermale, an alternative school that helps keep kids in school and graduate on time. The items hanging on the donated racks are unclaimed from the lost-and-found collections at the district’s schools.
Sarah Miller, Spokane Public Schools’ homeless liaison, came up with the idea to make the clothes available to the growing population of homeless students – up 55 percent compared with last year. “I thought: What can we do with these that are productive and helpful?” Miller said.
She collected lost-and-found items that had gone unclaimed for one year, and now has more clothing than hangers. “I can’t believe what kids leave behind. Some things even I couldn’t afford,” Miller said.
In addition to clothing, she has hygiene products, school supplies and backpacks that she buys with a small fund established to help homeless students. Miller hopes eventually to open it up to all struggling students in the district, not just homeless students. But “as it is now, we have 650 kids, so it’s serving a lot of people,” she said.
On Wednesday, Lenhert jammed pajamas, shirts, socks and sweatshirts into two backpacks and left the clothing bank with a smile.