They looked at the neighboring school districts of Shoreline and Edmonds for some ideas and discovered that both districts had clothing banks.
The trio, Barb Snyder, Jim McCausland and Manuele Mayer, started up Threads & Treads, a service of the Community Schools Project for the Northshore School District. They based the clothing bank at Kenmore Jr. High where it remained until this fall when it moved to Canyon Park Jr. High. Northshore families whose students qualify for free or reduced lunch or those who are experiencing financial challenges are welcome to use the free service.
“We don’t prescreen,” says Eileen Jowell, Community Schools Project coordinator for Northshore.
“We just ask for families to identify what school their kids attend. All Northshore School District families in need of clothing assistance are welcome.”
Jowell notes that 12 to 20 families come through the clothing bank each week — a number that has increased over the years due to the worsened state of the economy and subsequent layoffs, as well as increased awareness of the service.
The clothing bank has new and donated items for preschoolers on up to young adults, and includes a wide variety of clothes, athletic wear, shoes and some concert attire.
“We have nice quality items,” comments Jowell. “Our volunteers go through donations and those that are deemed appropriate for school wear are cleaned if necessary and then sorted according to size.”
Donations come from many sources including outreach committees at local schools and clothing drives. The program, which is run by volunteers, is a partnership of different entities, but according to Jowell, there’s always an opportunity for an organization to take the lead and partner with the school district.
“We want to identify sustainability for future years,” she says.
Jowell explains that the service helps support student achievement and school readiness. She adds, “Kids who feel good about their clothes will feel prepared to go to school and can focus on doing well in the classroom.”
Among the volunteers that staff the clothing bank are members of local churches and parents. Some of the parents use the service and then opt to give back by donating their time at the facility.
“What’s great about getting these families involved is that it helps to develop the parent connection,” comments Jowell. “Once they get involved, they learn more about other resources that the schools and the district offer, as well as ways to participate more in their children’s education.”
Though donations to the clothing bank come in daily, there is always a need for more items, especially new underwear and socks, athletic or casual shoes, jeans and hoodies for teens, belts, jackets, coats, gloves and hats for all sizes.
Additionally, hangers, sizing rings for rounders and display sign holders are also sought.
“And we can always use more volunteers,” adds Jowell. “We wouldn’t be able to operate this needed service without our volunteers.”
Threads & Treads is open Thursdays, 4-6 p.m. in portable 706 at Canyon Park Jr. High School.