We learned about Hangers, a not-for-profit clothing resource center for students in the Evansville Vanderburgh County School Corporation (EVSC), through our CEO, Jon Headlee, who serves on the board of directors for the EVSC Foundation which oversees the operations of Hangers.
Hangers’ primary purpose is to provide clothing, shoes and hygiene products free of charge to underprivileged EVSC students. But getting the clothing in students’ hands is not as easy as you’d think.
“Our goal is to help students be confident in how they dress and feel so they can concentrate on school and not worry about what they wear,” says Dave Schutte, a retired EVSC employee and now Director of Hangers. “And providing an engaging, retail setting to browse and shop—along with fashion expertise from a personal shopper—provides a unique and inspiring experience for students to select outfits they feel great in.”
So just how did Ten Adams step in to help? While we were out shopping for holiday presents for our own friends and family, we also bought clothing and items that Hangers needed. As excitement generally builds on those days leading up to Christmas, so did our loot for the Hangers clientele. The coolest jackets, boots, clothes and gifts were piling high in the corner of our operations office.
Upon returning after holiday break, we loaded up the bounty our team had collected and headed to Hangers. We were greeted by Mr. Schutte and were given an eye-opening tour of Hangers and its operations.
The first room on the right is the boys’ department. Jerseys from local high schools and state colleges hang from the ceiling. Walls displayed various sporting gear. Vintage lockers were re-purposed as clothing displays, and dressing rooms were styled in team memorabilia, making us feel as if we were standing in the middle of a sporting goods store. All clothing was organized by department: dress pants, jeans, active wear, athletic shoes, boots, outerwear, uniforms, personal hygiene items.
The girls’ department is next door, and has a completely different vibe. Bright colors, wall graphics, paper lanterns and oversized lawn umbrellas sprinkled the room’s aisles, inviting girls to browse and shop to their heart’s content.
For both boys and girls, personal shoppers are always in sight, helping students select the styles and sizes that work best for a wardrobe that students feel good in. Additionally, the boys’ and girls’ rooms are highly monitored for safety, allowing only same-sex parents and workers in the rooms to put the students’ minds and hearts at ease.
There is a waiting lounge across the hall from both rooms for family members and volunteer drivers to relax, read and play games while their student is enjoying a serene shopping experience with a personal shopper devoted to their likes and needs.
Hangers is not a thrift store; the organization frequently receives brand-new clothing with tags from local department stores, shoe stores and other retail outlets donating overstock or unsold items of the season. And Hangers is not a one-time event for students and their families; students have the opportunity to visit Hangers once a year. All shoppers get an entire week’s worth of clothes: five pairs of pants (which may be a combination of jeans, khakis, shorts or athletic pants), five tops, five pairs of socks, five pair of underwear, a belt, a pair of shoes, an undershirt, and girls receive one bra. Regardless of the time of year they visit, all students also receive a winter coat, hat and gloves. Furthermore, they leave Hangers with a hygiene bag containing shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, toothbrush and bar soap. Each person we spoke to at Hangers said that students typically ask for something simple to bring back for their family members – hand soap, toothbrushes, etc. The organization tries to keep extra items like these on hand so they can fulfill those selfless requests.
So many of us wake up in the morning and complain about “not having anything to wear,” when we have a closet full of clothes. We often don’t think about how lucky we are to not have to worry about having a warm outfit to put on ourselves or our children. Having tunnel vision makes it hard to see how many people in our community are truly in need of basic items. Hangers has served 1,800 underprivileged children from August 1, 2017 through January 12, 2018 – that’s an average of almost 11 children per day. It’s truly a topnotch organization that we are humbled by and proud to be able to serve.
For more information on volunteering or donating to Hangers, visit https://evscfoundation.org/hangers/ or their Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/pg/HangersEvansville/about/
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