HUSD offers families a real Christmas gift

Hemet Unified School District held the grand opening of its “District Closet” at its SAILS center last Wednesday afternoon

Photo by Corey Evan/The Valley Chronicle
The District Closet was fully stocked and ready to open on Dec. 13, thanks in part to Burlington Coat Factory, HUSD and the Rotary Club.

■ By Corey Evan / Reporter

These days more than ever, more families have to make do with less money. This can often mean having to skimp on essentials…even clothing. The Hemet Unified School District recognizes these families, and has found a new way to help–by opening “The District Closet.”
The District Closet is sponsored in whole by HUSD. For the Dec. 13 grand opening, HUSD invited eleven families to tour and pick items from the closet, which is housed in the East end of the SAILS Education Center on Devonshire Avenue. This project offers needy families within the district an assortment of new and gently-used clothing items, from t-shirts and bottoms, to winter coats. Yes, they even have socks and undies for families! The Hemet Rotary Club’s Terry Sharp helped make sure of that.
“We were told that there was no such thing as used underwear [at these events]…so we went and bought new underwear [for the closet],” said Sharp.
According to HUSD Director of Pupil Services Dr. Tracy Piper, this project came about as a way of connecting the dots between the haves and the have nots.
“Our first clothing donations were from Burlington Coat Factory; they donated quite a few coats,” explained Piper. “We provide vouchers to our neediest families, and students in our workability program take the vouchers as ‘money.’ Parents can [also] come in and buy clothes for their children.”
As for why it took HUSD until 2017 to put this together, Piper says it was something they started to realize when they began focusing more on their adolescent foster youth.
“We realized how much they really needed clothing, and we wanted to find a way to provide it,” she said. “It took us six months. Our goal was to open by Christmas.” And they made it!
On that note, HUSD Superintendent Christi Barrett recognizes the need for clothes can often distract a child from making the grade.
“A child should be able to focus on receiving an education when they walk into our schools, but often times they are worrying about basic needs,” said Barrett. “To be able to provide our students and their families a little bit of peace of mind by providing a place for them to access clothing, is a barrier we are excited to lift. The District Closet would not have been possible if it wasn’t for Dr. Tracy Piper and her team, and the Hemet community. Thanks to their valiant efforts we are able to support our students and their families during a time of need and provide them with necessary resources.”
For those who wish to donate to the District Closet, please call HUSD at 951-765-5100. People can donate clothes Monday and Friday mornings from 8-10 p.m. at the District Closet at 831 E. Devonshire. However, since school is on break people will not be there until school returns Jan. 2.

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