‘This closet is just a blessing’: Nonprofit helps students at Lakeland SD access free clothing

RATHDRUM, Idaho — For some of us, picking out clothes is a long process. That’s not a luxury everyone has, though. A closet at school helps children who would have to wear the same things over and over.

Every week, a closet at Mountain View Alternative High School gets stocked with clothes. If it weren’t for the closet, student Sarah Watson wouldn’t have many clothes to pick from.

“I’d probably be wearing the same outfit three times a week,” Sarah said.

Now, she gets to pick things from shoes to shirts whenever she needs.

“Some stuff happened at my house that we had to leave immediately. I wasn’t able to grab much stuff, clothes or anything like that,” she said.

Her teacher brought her to the closet one day and said to go shopping.

“Even this outfit right now, it’s from the closet. Shoes, socks, pants, hoodie and my shirt. It’s really helped me a lot,” Sarah pointed to the clothes she was wearing.

Organization Cup of Grace fills baskets with donations from the community or clothes it buys. The closet was started by The Coeur Group, supplying some clothes and the shelves. Cup of Grace then came in and added additional shelves and bins for more clothes.

“I get really excited when there’s empty bins. That means that the clothes are going to the kids that need them and kids are getting what they need,” said Vanessa Keck, a volunteer with Cup of Grace.

It’s a need that Cup of Grace says is all over the Lakeland School District.

“Another kid said he didn’t have any socks. Another little girl, she didn’t even understand what it felt like to have socks with her snow boots. It was weird to her because she doesn’t wear socks, she doesn’t have any. There’s so many different stories,” said Amy Privitt, the executive director of Cup of Grace Ministries.

At the high school of students where nearly half are on free or reduced lunch, they’re grateful. Students can come and go, grab however much they need at anytime.

“Honestly, this closet is just a blessing. It’s helped me out because there’s a time when I didn’t have anything,” said Paige Prater, a student. “I see actually quite a few people come in and out a day looking at the closet and I feel like it’s just a big blessing for the school.”

The closet is always in need of more clothes and shoes. Keck said they’re specifically in need of more men’s pants, but the real challenge is getting clothes that kids would actually wear.

They also have a little bucket for students to put a note in, asking for specific things they might need. Cup of Grace will work to get that item the student needs and give it to them.

Seven of the 11 schools in the Lakeland School District have a closet right now. The organization is working to get all the schools in the district a closet.

To learn more on how to help Cup of Grace fill the need for these students, visit their website here.