Cabrillo High School is helping their students in need in a very unique way.
Last week, Cabrillo staff unveiled the Cabrillo Closet, a space for students to access necessary items for free, ranging from clothing to toiletries, backpacks, shoes and school supplies.
"The idea was born a couple of years ago after some students mentioned that they would not be able to go to formal because they couldn't afford dresses," Vice Principal Stacie Alexander said. "So we thought, what if we created this space on campus where clothing just existed and they could get what they needed."
Earlier this year, staff was asked to go through their closets and see if they had anything in good condition that they were willing to part with, and the response was overwhelming, Alexander added.
"Everything that you see in there is just from our own staff," she added. "The whole purpose is to give back to our kids and show love and support in our community."
The room on the Cabrillo campus was fitted out to look like a boutique, featuring six clothing racks, multiple shoe racks and about eight storage boxes filled with items that have yet to be unpacked and added to the racks. Students received the official announcement for Cabrillo Closet when classes resumed Wednesday, Aug. 28, with directions to simply take whatever they need from it.
And closet-goers can shop in privacy.
Alexander added that there will be no required steps for students to take something from the closet. That's because staff doesn't want to put pressure on the students who may be uncomfortable with asking for help. The only thing that will be tracked is what items come and go.
"We are tracking the inventory itself, not who's utilizing it," Alexander said. "If we recognize that a certain student or a certain family is coming in regularly to get clothing, then that also gives us an opportunity to reach out in a different way and support their needs more broadly... We do have an inventory system that our I.T. guys have created for us, so we look forward to tracking (the clothes) and seeing where we have the most need."
The staff plans to host various clothing drives depending on the need, like winter drive for coats or a formal drive for dresses and suits, Alexander added.
So far, the closet is set to be open to students three days a week, before school and after classes end for the day, as well as opening from 8 a.m. to noon on Saturdays.
Additionally, the school is not accepting donations from outside of the school. Alexander said that they don't know what kind of a response they will receive from the students, but if the need ever arises, they will consider reaching out to the greater Long Beach area for help.
"We're just not sure how our inventory is going to move yet," she said.
And while the staff isn't sure if the closet is going to be a short term or long term fixture, Alexander sad that she and the rest of her team will do what they can to better address the needs of the high school's students.
"I was overwhelmed personally by just the amount of donations," she said. "It really shows the commitment that our staff has to both our students and their needs and our willingness to support the community."
For more information about Cabrillo High School, go to lbcabrillo.schoolloop.com.
Stephanie Stutzman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.