Hampton Elementary School shows students love with clothing closet

Published 9:08 am Friday, March 13, 2020

Hampton Elementary School has been taking care of their own with a clothes closet for about eight years.

Joy Gardner, the physical education teacher at the school, said the closet provides clothes and other necessities, like backpacks, to students in need.

“Here in Hampton we take care of our own,” she said. “It’s always been that way. I grew up here. We always take care of our own.”

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Gardner said the closet has grown over the years, getting more organized thanks to her best friend, and hopes it has a positive impact on the kids.

“I’ve seen kids, the difference it’s made in them, just getting a new pair of shoes, even,” she said.

The closet provides a variety of sizes for both male and female students, with everything from pants and shirts, to socks, bras and underwear. Shoes, coats, backpacks and even toys are also in there.

Gardner said the closet helps care not just for children who may not have many items of clothing, but also those who may have accidents at school. Additionally, the closet has come to the aid of students who have lost everything in house fires.

“It’s not just me by any means, I definitely have a lot of help,” she said. “I just see the need. You wouldn’t believe how many kids need things.”

Gardner said students are happy for anything given in the clothes closet. Students who enter the closet are also able to “shop” by telling Gardner their size, and she lets them choose what they want.

Gardner said she is thankful for the help she gets from fellow teachers, such as the special education teachers who help clean and organize the closet, and also said the closet is by no means just her project.

In addition to the clothes closet, there is also a commodity closet by Kim Andrews, who also works at the school. This closet provides students with a backpack they fill up with things a student may need, including food that kids could fix themselves if needed and even hygiene products. The backpacks are discrete, and can be brought back by students when they need more items.

Those interested in donating, clothing or money, can do so at the school in the office. Items that are asked for are new or gently used items, like pants, shirts, socks, bras, underwear and shoes. Gardner said the most needed items are socks and underwear as they go fast. She also said the school could always use deodorant. The clothes closet currently has no budget and does survive on donations, however churches have been a big help as well.

“I’m going to love these kids,” she said. “I just can’t help knowing these kids may go home to nothing. I’m going to make sure they know they’re loved here.”