Destiny Bonser, a sophomore at Barker High School, said she visits the Council Closet every once in a while to find clothes for her 8-year-old sister.
“It helps out,” she said.
The Council Closet is in its third year in the Central Valley School District. It began at North Pines Middle School, a small closet of clothing for teachers and school counselors to use when they saw a student in need throughout the district.
It expanded from there. Now district students and families can get gently used clothing, housewares, shoes and more. The closet is now housed in a room at Barker High School, 13313 E. Broadway Ave.
Students at Barker can use the closet and volunteer there. Many of them are involved in the school’s Key Club. Shannon Braithwait, a 19-year-old senior who will graduate next week, said she spent about 25 to 30 hours volunteering in the closet after getting involved with Key Club last year.
Senior Felicia Vierth is involved with the Key Club and has shopped at the closet, when she was about ready to take a field trip with her class and needed a sweatshirt to keep warm.
“There’s stuff that’s good,” she said. “It’s not old and used.”
District spokeswoman Melanie Rose said the closet scheduled regular hours last year – it was open twice a month for four hours. This year the closet is open every Wednesday. The district provides the space at Barker, plus funds for business cards and posters.
The closet is staffed with parent volunteers. Keila Connolly said she got involved after she joined the Central Valley PTA. She helps organize the closet and wash the clothes. If there are donations that volunteers can’t use, the items are placed in a collection bin on the Barker campus for Gemtext Recycling, which pays the school for the items.
Connolly said the closet is fairly busy. On one day a couple of weeks ago, five families came in.
“That was an awesome day for us,” she said.
Lisa Thomas began volunteering at the Council Closet when she heard about it through Advent Lutheran Church. She said one afternoon a woman came in looking for clothing for two foster children.
“She was so thankful,” Thomas said. “They didn’t have anything.”
Thomas has seen families come in who have recently relocated to the area from warmer states who are in need of boots and coats.
“I tell everybody I know about this place,” Thomas said.
Connolly said many of the schools in the district get involved, too. Adams Elementary recently held a sock drive – the closet is always in need of new socks and undergarments in all sizes.
Laura Donaly, a Central Valley parent, came in last week with her 1-month-old son, Atticus. She heard about the program through the ECEAP program at the Early Learning Center. She had a full bag of clothing for her children and grandchildren.
“I found baby stuff, girls stuff and boys stuff,” she said.
While the program has expanded to families and students, it is still open to teachers and counselors looking for items for their students.
“What haven’t I picked up?” joked Missy Scott, a counselor at McDonald Elementary. She comes in often for shoes, socks and coats for homeless students at her school.
“It’s a wonderful resource for our district,” Scott said.