Volunteers in a North Texas school district are offering clean clothes and the confidence that goes with them to hundreds of kids in need.
But when the district's only washing machine recently broke, volunteers had to find a way to pivot -- and keep clothing students.
A fresh load of laundry can wash away anxiety for students in need of clean clothes.
“It’s heartbreaking. This district has a lot of in need families, a lot more than most people realize. People think HEB is an affluent district, and it’s not,” parent and volunteer Dawn Howard said.
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It’s been a rough few weeks keeping Hurst-Euless-Bedford ISD's PTA Clothes Closet operating at full speed.
“Our original washing machine went down. What we have now is a loaner. It’s a little small, we can’t have an industrial size here, but we could use a little larger washing machine,” Howard said.
To keep up, volunteers wash some donated clothes at home or take loads to a laundromat.
A working washing machine isn’t the only thing it could use going into the winter weather.
“We’re in desperate need for coats, we’re in desperate need for pants, new shoes. The supply chain is causing an issue with shoes, that we’re not able to find shoes, or the price has gone up so much,” HEB ISD Council of PTAs President Crystal Sadler said.
Empty hangers and shelves speak of a need that will only worsen with cold weather on the way.
As the Clothes Closet waits for a new washing machine, volunteers have a bigger wish -- to keep providing clean clothes to students, whatever it takes.
“It’s a gift that we can’t just not give. We want to help these kids,” Sadler said.
The HEB PTA Clothes Closet served 1,600 students pre-COVID-19 in a school year.
It also provides warm clothes and shoes to siblings who tag along with students.
In the 2020-21 year, the need dropped by half, serving around 800 students and their families who were learning virtually from home.
The need is increasing with kids back in school. So far since August, it has serviced 352 students and their families.
If you’d like to help, here are some things to know.
- The HEB PTA Clothes Closet will accept used and new clothing donations size 4T to 4X, gift cards, washing supplies, new shoes, gift cards, washing supplies, new shoes, new socks and new undergarments for boys and girls.
- The Clothes Closet has an Amazon wish list and a Facebook page.
- Items can be dropped off anytime in the blue bin outside the Clothes Closet, or they are open on Tuesdays and Fridays from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. It is also open on the second and fourth Saturdays of each month.
- Those who wish to help can also reach out to the Clothes Closet Coordinator.