Broughal Middle School emphasizes the need for all students to have accessibility to clothes through their “Community Clothing Closet.”
The Community Clothing Closet acts as a communal closet with donations from faculty and outside resources that students can have access to. Students can go inside and pick what they need if they are missing a clothing item.
The Community Clothing Closet is coordinated by Alicia Creazzo, the community school coordinator for Broughal.
Eighth grade counselor Damarius Soto said Broughal’s goal is to remove barriers to student success and happiness by expanding their access to resources.
“While our community may be rich in culture and have a long history with its roots with Bethlehem Steel, our families sometimes encounter obstacles that get in their way of achieving academic and personal success in school,” Soto said.
He said that some of those obstacles are due to basic needs not being met like food, clothing, school supplies, mental health services and medical attention.
Through partnerships and the help of the Bethlehem community, Soto said the school is able to help meet some of those needs through grants and donations.
Situations that require accessibility to the Community Clothing Closet include families experiencing an emergency or families simply requiring extra clothing.
Halina John, a site coordinator for Broughal, said that students come in need of things like belts, jackets, raincoats and other accessories.
John said if students are in need of something, they give the kids a chance to go into the closet, look around, and see what’s available to them.
Faculty can bring in coats they may have, and other outside sources will drop off clothes they might not need.
“It is kind of like a melting pot of resources coming together at the school to help,” John said.
Oftentimes, students will come into the closet because they do not have proper fitting clothes — either too big or too small.
However, sometimes students simply do not have access to some clothes, which can be especially harmful in the winter months.
Tina Knipe, an associate nurse at the middle school, noticed that some kids lacked proper coats and warm clothing during extremely low temperatures.
“Students will come to school without a coat and we see them sometimes when we’re on our way to work while
they’re walking in 30 degrees,” Knipe said.
There are over 500 students at Broughal, with 86 percent being deemed eligible for free lunch determined by governmental guidelines.
Currently, Broughal is seeking donations of gently used prom dresses and boys dress clothing for their Spring Farewell dance.
“Our donations not only benefit our Broughal students and families but we are a resource to all of the BASD (Bethlehem Area School District) families,” Soto said. “As a district and a Bethlehem family, we work together to help each other.”