Pueblo’s Clothing Bank: Open For Business, Open For Donations

By Saul Arias & Aubrey Garcia

Ms. Sandra Swiderski with Senior Christopher Marquez in the Clothing Bank

The clothing bank at Pueblo High School was created eight years ago as a government funded student to work program.

Ms. Sandra Swiderski stays busy with preparing students for a job by giving them retail and sales experience.

“The clothing bank is completely student operated, but it can only be open if I’m there in the room,” Swiderski said. “If a student has an accident and needs a change of clothes—and if I’m not on campus—a monitor can open the door so he or she can get their needs.”

This PHS clothing bank is located on the south side of the T-Building, Room T-5 and is open to the public and Pueblo students. For students, the doors are open Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. until 3 p.m. For the public, the clothing bank is open from 7:30 a.m. until 11:30, Monday through Friday.

“On average 10 students and four people from the public come in each day,” Swiderski said. “Inventory is kind of low right now, but we hope to change that with clothing drives this semester.

This program is dependent upon donations and encourages trades; to get clothing, students and the public should bring clothing to trade. They accept most types of clothing such as shirts, pants, shorts, and clothing accessories (belts, shoes). Used undergarments are not acceptable.

“The government buys underwear, socks, and many hygiene products,” Swiderski said. “We still depend upon donations for most everything else.”

Drama Performances Help Clothing Bank

by Viviana Cruz

Pueblo Players Drama

For the past three years, Pueblo’s drama department has been hosting annual variety shows during the first semester of the school year. This year, however, has been quite different. For the 2017-18 school year, the advanced theater class decided to host a charity show called “From Screen to Stage”, in order to lend a hand to Pueblo’s very own community clothing bank, currently run by our CBI students.

The show ran at the Little Theater on Monday, Oct. 2, and Tuesday, Oct. 3, and the overwhelming support was unexpected to these individuals as both nights were nearly sold out. The drama club raised $335, and all of the money will benefit the clothing bank. Live music during the performances was played by Mr. Johny Vargas’ guitar students.

Drama director and teacher Ms. Sarah Sutton said, “The purpose of this show was to bring in people who can donate, and we did that by performing pieces the audience was familiar with from movies and TV shows.”

The scenes were very eclectic classic movie scenes—from The Breakfast Club, Mean Girls, House Bunny, Friends, Aladdin, Donnie Darko—among others.

Actress Cheyenne Vega, a senior, said, “The outcome [of our performances] was great! Our actors love to perform and entertain people, but we also love to help out as much as we can—that’s why we performed our show.”

Exceptional education department chair Ms. Trevia Heath said, “We really appreciated what the drama students did for us! Their show collected numerous hygiene items along with more than $300—which will definitely help us purchase socks and underwear, which are always in high demand.”

Actor Milo Madrid, another senior, said, “I worked hard in every show. However, because I was representing not just the drama department but also supporting the clothing bank and our school’s CBI students, this opportunity gave me a little boost to work harder.”

The drama department has never put on a charity show like this before, and because of the effort made by students and teachers—as well as their success—the group said that they are certain this type of performance won’t be their last.

Clothing Bank Offers Opportunities to CBI Students


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