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Students break records with 'Stuff the Bus'

Caring Closet gives donations to needy


by: TIMES PHOTO: BARBARA SHERMAN - Students load hundreds of pounds of clothing into a school bus at Deer Creek Elementary School on Friday. The donations go to the Caring Closet, which distributes clothes and other items to needy students in the Tigard-Tualatin School DistrictThese kids are getting good at this.

For the first time since it began in 2009, every school in the Tigard-Tualatin School District participated in the annual “Stuff the Bus” clothing drive benefiting the Caring Closet.

The Caring Closet, which provides clothes and other items to needy students living in the district, has been putting on the one-day clothing drive at schools for years, but only a handful of schools typically get involved, said Marilyn Hassmann, director of the Caring Closet.

“This year we filled two school buses full of bags of clothes,” she said.

Students spent part of their Friday filling school buses with thousands of items such as clothing, shoes and other kinds of apparel.

It has become an annual tradition at the schools. Hassmann said students donated so many items, she had to find new places to store them all.

“We filled the Closet and our annex,” she said. “We had to go out and get a storage unit to house the rest of the clothes.”

Hassmann said she couldn’t even begin to guess how many items the students were able to collect.

by: TIMES PHOTO: BARBARA SHERMAN - Students collected so many clothes that officials with the Caring Closet filled the annex and an additional storage unit. “It’s thousands of clothes,” Hassmann said. “We will spend the rest of the year going through and sorting them.”

It’s a major boost for the organization, which gives underprivileged children a week’s worth of clothing, pajamas, a pair of shoes and other household items such as towels, hygiene items, toiletries and books.

“This will really help us get the school year started this fall,” she said.

Families must be pre-qualified by a principal, teacher or counselor at their school to “shop” at the Caring Closet.

Hassmann said there are more underprivileged students in the district than people realize.

The Closet sees about 1,550 students each school year, Hassmann said. “People don’t realize that there are so many kids sleeping on the floor or sharing a bed with a brother or sister. Or they are a family of five that can’t afford more than two bathroom towels for the entire family.”

Every year, Hassmann is overwhelmed by the generosity of district students.

“It just keeps getting better and better,” she said of the annual event. “I can’t thank our volunteers enough. The community is really stepping up to the plate and helping us make this so successful. It is great to have the support of the community,”

Not every school chose to donate clothing during the one-day drive, Hassmann said.

“Each school had their own venue,” Hassmann said.

Some schools, like Fowler, are collecting clothing as part of an in-school drive, which will be donated to the Caring Closet later this year.

Others, like a group of students at Mary Woodward Elementary School, donated more than 3,000 books to the Closet.

Although the Closet is now well-stocked with clothing for the near future, some items are always in high demand.

“We are always in need of new socks, new underwear and monetary donations,” she said. “The donations help us buy socks, underwear and shoes.”

In addition, money that is contributed is used to purchase bus passes, gas vouchers and other items to help struggling families make ends meet.



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