TOME—Even though it’s her first year at Valencia High School, Celestia Carrasco is already making a big difference for students in need of clothes.
She created a free thrift store for students to receive clothes if they need them.
“It’s just something I’ve always wanted to do. I was the kid that had to wear hand-me-downs,” Carrasco said.
“Here in Valencia County, there’s always a need for that. I work with the older kids and I feel like they can get neglected when it comes to donations. There’s always stuff for little kids but no so much for older kids.”
Stationed in a previously-vacant classroom, there are fitting rooms for students to try on clothes.
“It’s a work in progress,” Carrasco said. “I want it to be student-based and student-led.”
Though it’s aimed towards students, Carrasco said it is a school-wide effort.
She commissioned the welding class to make the clothing racks for the shop. Some of Donna Hinders’ special education students wash and sort the clothing that is donated.
Volunteers and some of the full-time substitute teachers will go when they can to help organize and supervise the shop.
“It’s been a good project because the community is so willing to help,” Carrasco said. “I put out an idea and everyone has started donating and are willing to help, so it’s coming together.”
In September, Carrasco started sharing her idea with friends and neighbors on Facebook. She said it’s because of them that this whole project happened.
Many students are coming to her saying they cleaned out their closet and wanted to donate the clothes that no longer fit them.
“I don’t want the typical stigma of trying to keep it hushed or hidden,” Carrasco said. “I want it to be a place where the kids feel good about themselves and if you have stuff, donate it and if you need stuff, take it.”
Up to this point, Carrasco has been picking up the clothing people are donating. Now, people can drop off clothing items at Bosque Farms elementary or drop them off directly at Valencia High School.
“Right now we’re accepting clothes in high school sizes and we’re thinking of expanding to carry sizes for siblings because the need seems to be there,” Carrasco said.
“Currently, I don’t have the space for that but our principals are working on it because I’d love to expand.”
They are also taking food donations for students if they need to take food home for the evening or weekend, as well as hygiene products.
For more information, call Valencia High School, 565-8755, and ask for Celestia Carrasco or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.