By Yamilex Garcia and Omar Quintana
On Dec. 16, 2016, Pueblo Magnet High School held its grand opening to commemorate the school’s first clothing bank, in the former T-5 building, offering a enormous variety of shoes, clothes and accessories for boys and girls—as well as adults—in need of these items.
The clothing bank also teaches Pueblo’s CBI students special job skills including sewing, ironing, working with the cash register and stocking items regularly.
“It’s challenging for our CBI students to get jobs, so we’re offering opportunities to build on their resume of skills,” said Ms. Trevia Heath, who is Pueblo’s Exceptional Education Coordinator.
Everything in the community bank was donated by teachers, staff and students. All working items are then washed, ironed, and hung in the clothing bank racks.
“If it needs to be washed, vended or sewed, we teach our students how to fix it,” said Heath.
Health acknowledged many Pueblo individuals for making the clothing bank a reality—and especially the following: Ms. Rhonda Alexander, Mr. Derek Gunnels, Ms. Jamie Hogue and Mr. Miguel Sandoval.
Gunnels said, “The entire project was Ms. Heath’s idea, and slowly but surely, it became a reality. Our first period core class helped us a lot with getting the clothing bank looking the way it is today.”
Sophomore Celestina Mariñez, one of the many students who were instrumental in helping to make the clothing bank a reality, said, “I wish people could have seen this space a year ago! I was one of the first people to be in this room and wonder if we could really make it work. But, Ms. Heath never let us believe that we couldn’t achieve this dream. There were pigeons living in here! And, you can’t believe all of the [trash] that we found while cleaning this room!”
Mariñez said that she will be one of the workers in the clothing bank. She said that she is looking forward to her training—learning how to be a cashier, a stocker and anything else that needs to be done.
Heath said that many individuals made this clothing bank possible, including: Dr. Augustine Romero (principal) and the rest of the administrative team; TSW staff members; Tucson area businesses (Cathey’s Sew and Vac, Home Depot, Office Depot and Lowe’s Home Improvement) as well as the entire Pueblo community, including parents, who have been “beyond generous,” Heath said.
“We’ve been overwhelmed with people’s generosity,” Heath said. “Some of these donations have been individuals outside of the school, which means a lot to the Pueblo community.”
The clothing bank owes its existence to the WIOA (Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act), who approved the $10,000 grant which was used to buy racks, hangers and sewing machines—among other items necessary to making the clothing bank a reality.
Students in need of any sort of clothing item or accessory can simply talk to the teachers, who then refer them to the TWS staff.
Heath said, “Sometimes it’s hard for students to ask for help, so we make it a discreet process.”
She added that if a grant gets approved for next year, her plan is to open a greenhouse near the Science Club’s garden.
“This [garden] could definitely give students a chance to learn agricultural skills and add to their resumes,” Heath said.
Read report by Barbara Grijalva of Tucson News Now:
Tucson school struggling to cope with vandalism is giving back to the community