By Amanda Rogers
For the past 20 years, the Mansfield ISD Council of PTAs Clothes Closet has helped keep thousands of local kids dressed, clean and ready for school.
“There’s no way we can count the donations that come in, the clothes, coats, socks, school supplies, backpacks, lunch pails, shoes, baby clothes, shoes, swimsuits, Halloween costumes, coloring books, soap, shampoo and body wash,” said Dez Thomas, a member of the Mansfield ISD school board who has been volunteering with the clothes closet for nine years.
The closet, which is funded by the MISD Council of PTAs, can count the number of people they help every year – approximately 800 families and 1,000 students.
“Parents can come four times a year,” Thomas said. “They get a voucher from their school counselor or nurse and bring it to the clothes closet. If you have a fourth-grader or above, you get a hygiene kit, too. We want to take care of our MISD students first, but we had so much that we can share. Curtina (Wilson, clothes closet chairperson) reached out to Venus ISD.”
The neighboring district was thrilled to get the help, Wilson said.
The closet closet also steps in when a student’s family has a fire and helps supply foster children, too, explained Samantha Lee, president of the MISD Council of PTAs.
Some families don’t know about the clothes closet or will not reach out, Thomas said.
“Our council is so hands-on and believes in networking,” she said. “When a teacher or counselor has a need, they reach out to someone on our council. We had a child at Alice Ponder Elementary that was walking out of her shoes. I zoomed over there and delivered some.”
Members of the district’s PTAs staff the clothes closet, which is open from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Mondays.
“We don’t just help kids that need clothes and hygiene products,” Thomas said. “We’re also an outreach for volunteer projects. We’ve had several Eagle Projects build shelves, collection bins and shoe racks. We could use some more Eagle Projects.”
Sixth-graders and above also can volunteer at the clothes closet. Younger kids need to have a parent who will stay with them. Community volunteers are welcome, too. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Volunteer hours are 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Mondays.
The clothes closet opened in October 2020 “at R.L. Anderson Stadium in a little bitty room at the top of the stairs,” Thomas remembered.
By 2004, the clothes closet had outgrown that room and moved across the street to the Phoenix Academy, where it was soon taking up two classrooms, one for clothes and another for sorting. In 2008, the clothes closet was moved to a portable near the Huckabee portables and R.L. Anderson again. That building was condemned in 2013, and the clothes closet moved to its current location in a large portable on the Erma Nash Elementary side of R.L. Anderson Stadium at 1016 Magnolia St.
To celebrate two decades of service, the MISD Council of PTAs is planning an open house from 1-3 p.m. Oct. 18 at the R.L. Anderson Building, 1016 Magnolia St., with tours of the clothes closet.
To donate, drop off items between 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Mondays at 1016 Magnolia St.
Mansfield, Texas, is a booming city, nestled between Fort Worth and Dallas, but with a personality all its own. The city’s 76,247 citizens enjoy an award-winning school district, vibrant economy, historic downtown, prize-winning park system and community focus spread across 37 square miles. The Mansfield Record is dedicated to reporting city and school news, community happenings, police and fire news, business, food and restaurants, parks and recreation, library, historical archives and special events. The city’s only online newspaper launched in September 2020 and will offer introductory advertising rates for the first three months at three different rates.