There is a popular cartoon in the teaching community. Maybe you’ve seen it? It shows a child carrying large bags labeled with various challenges—hunger, illness, homelessness. It reads, “Could someone help me with these? I’m late for math class.”
Most of us understand at a glance what it represents. Before a student can remember, understand and apply what they’re learning, their basic needs like shelter, food, and clothing must be met. They must feel that they are safe, loved, and that they belong.
Thanks to a new partnership between the Oshkosh Area School District (OASD), the Community Clothes Closet and the Boys & Girls Club of Oshkosh, area children are receiving the clothing they need.
Each month during the school year, a large truck from the Community Clothes Closet in Menasha is filled with clothing, bedding, winter wear, and personal care items for its visit to the Boys & Girls Club of Oshkosh. Students referred by OASD school social workers shop at the Traveling Closet, and everything is free of charge.
“The Traveling Closet is about so much more than just providing clothing to students in need – it’s about building confidence and self-esteem and keeping kids safe from inclement weather. All of this can lead to better decision making and engagement in school,” says Lynn Ryerson, school social worker at Oshkosh North High School.
A different age range of students from grade school up through high school is served each month. Approximately 70 children receive items each time the Traveling Closet comes to Oshkosh.
“With the cost of good going up, families are finding it harder to make ends meet, so if we can help families stretch their income by providing the basic need of clothing, that is very impactful and that’s what our mission is,” states Lisa Jones, executive director of the Community Clothes Closet.
A mom of three children that visited the Traveling Closet, sums up the impact and expresses her gratitude in a note saying, “Thank you! My husband and I are currently living in a one-bedroom apartment with our three boys and saving to get a bigger place. This is such a blessing.”
The Traveling Closet got its start in fall 2021 with $52,500 in support from the Take Five Fund and U.S. Venture Fund for Basic Needs within the Community Foundation.