Knights Community Closet, located at Claypool Elementary, is a school-based clothing store stocked entirely by community donations and ran by staff and student volunteers. The idea to create the store followed an observation that many students did not appear to have their basic clothing needs met.
Prior to the creation of the store, many students arrived at school without undergarments or socks. Others came wearing pants that were too big and were falling off or too small and were unable to be zipped. Torn shirts and shoes with the holes and the soles coming off were also observed.
Staff reported these clothing issues to be a distraction to the student and a deterrent to learning with several asking how a student can be educated if their basic needs are not being met.
In order to address these needs, staff and Claypool Principal Melissa Rees transformed the area behind the school’s stage into a clothing store. As community members became aware of the project, donations began pouring in. In addition to this support, seven racks of clothing were donated by Second Mile Missions. Claypool Student Counsel, the Claypool Bible Club and staff donated time, before and after school, during recess times and on weekends to get the store up and running.
After requesting teacher and staff referrals, a list of students that might benefit from the service was compiled and applications were sent out to families, explaining the store and requesting permission for their student to shop. Students were then given appointment times and escorted by a staff member to shop and fill a tote with the clothing they would pick out themselves.
After their shopping trip, students are given the opportunity to donate back to the store by bringing back items that they have outgrown. In teaching them the joy of giving back, even if it is just a small item, they are given accountability and pride in knowing that they are helping others which fulfills the WCS mission statement of enriching the lives of others.
After a successful first year of serving over 50 students, the Knights Community Closet is expanding into an empty classroom. The expansion will allow for more clothing racks, a portable changing room, more storage and the opportunity to provide for basic hygiene items such as shampoo, soaps, toothbrushes and more.
If anyone is interested in learning more about Knights Community Closet or would like to make a donation, please contact Julie Reed, Claypool Elementary School nurse at 574-566-2300.