Since 1986, the RISD Council of PTAs and the Richardson Independent School District have joined to run the Clothes Closet.

The purpose of the Clothes Closet is to help needy students attending RISD schools by providing them – free of charge – with a week’s worth of gently worn, in-style clothing. (New socks, underwear and a pair of shoes also are provided.)

It is our feeling at the Clothes Closet that children not only have an essential need to be clothed, but that students who have clothes that look good will reflect an enhanced self-esteem and positive attitude, which will hopefully be noted in positive performance in school.

The closet is open Monday through Thursday during the school calendar. RISD provides the space and utilities to operate the closet, and 53 PTAs provide volunteer manpower and used clothing.

Students in pre-k through 12th grade are seen by appointment, following referral by a school counselor. We will see between 600-800 students this year. Typically, the students represent all four high school areas and the demographics of the RISD, and contrary to stereotypes, we have not found assisted students to be over-users of such a program.

We have been greatly touched by the wave of “new poor” being seen because of family disruption, sudden joblessness, or acceptance of additional family members by supportive guardians with inadequate financial means to clothe extra bodies.

We receive clothing from the entire RISD community, various community and student clubs, a few companies, and individuals. One can safely bet that the week we receive plenty of size 5 and 6 items for elementary kids, we will see an extra-large junior high child. When we get the word out for big sizes, the next week’s kids are all skinny. We therefore request all sizes at all times. We also purchase new underwear, socks and, when possible, shoes, jeans and winter jackets to fill in donation gaps.

Monetary donations allow us to take advantage of sales to supplement our stock and prevent us from having to send a bunch of kids out with inadequate clothing.

Typically, it costs $17-$20 for each student. (Ten dollars buys underwear for a student, and with much bargaining, we have been able to obtain nice sneakers for $7-$10 per pair.)

Normally, each of our 53 PTAs makes a one-time donation of $10-$50. This, along with outside donations, creates our budget for the year.

All Lake Highlands-area PTAs support this service project throughout the year. We couldn’t assist the students without this wonderful group of volunteers.

If you have questions or would like to donate anything from toiletries and toothbrushes to student-appropriate clothing, please call the Clothes Closet at 301-3440.