At the beginning of the 2019-2020 school year, EHHS guidance counselor, Ms. Michele Madonna, developed the ‘Need Something?’ clothing rack. It is currently located at the entrance of the guidance department and it supplies the student body, in an anonymous setting, with a variety of clothing ranging from jackets and shirts to pants, shoes, and more. The rack can provide students with clothing they may need or be interested in without charge or judgment.
Dating back almost ten years, Ms. Kelly Ottenbreit, a former EHHS English teacher, created a space to gather any and all clothes donated to the school. ‘The Closet’ - as it is known by EHHS faculty and staff - is located on the third floor in the world language and business wing. The closet is filled with several pieces of donated items from not only EHHS students and teachers, but community members. EHHS Assistant Principal Mrs. Susan Harkins says, “In the closet itself, there are just bags of clothing [...] We have had students separate the items into what students can be interested in or if it is appropriate [if not it] can be donated somewhere else.” The clothing is thoroughly reviewed by several staff members and students in an effort to offer students only items that are undamaged. Additionally, within the space, there is a private area for students to try on the clothing. All students may access the closet with permission from an administrator or staff member. “We felt that sometimes kids shy away from that - to ask someone and tell someone,” Ms. Madonna says. As a result, she placed a clothing rack, with these clothing items, in front of the guidance department. Ms.
Madonna feels, “[By] walking by and seeing something that you might need or want, it's easier to just grab.” SinceSince the guidance department is located in the center of the school, every student at some point walks by it often - thus, the clothing rack becomes a well-known area to the students. “We don't want anyone to feel uncomfortable with it. It's kind of like ‘We have all this stuff. If you want something, grab it!’ You want people to feel comfortable, especially if they need something they might not want people to know they need something,” Ms. Madonna states. Without the need to ask someone for help, students can feel at ease with accepting and enjoying the aid provided to them by the school community.
The clothing rack can provide students with several opportunities; this can be from
receiving help privately, or assisting in the providing of this help. By organizing or donating to the closet, and thus the clothing rack, students can be offered community service. EHHS Senior Melissa Nuñez states, “We have a mix of students at school, those who might need the clothes and those who can donate so it [...] works out great!” Everybody can donate an article of clothing; Ms. Madonna just asks that the clothing be cleaned prior to donation and age-appropriate. As donations are received and items are taken, the clothing rack will continue to be replenished accordingly to provide the best clothing possible to the students.
The EHHS community provides students with several modes of assistance. From receiving donated clothing to community service for assisting in this process, the clothing rack brings the school community together. Through the ‘Need Something’ clothing rack, Mr. Vincent DeNuzzo, EHHS Principal, feels, “We [can] become this school that our mindset is one of giving and helping others. That's what we need.” We can bring the school community together through donations and mutual aid. With a goal to grow the rack, EHHS faculty and staff are hopeful that more students can be impacted in a positive manner.