“We want to make it easier for parents or foster parents or whoever is the guardian of the children to clothe [them] in current clothing without the stress of the financial obligation,” Clothes Closet Lead Judy Buckler said.
The Clothes Closet provides tops, bottoms, dresses, outerwear, shoes, socks, underwear, sports bras, accessories and seasonal clothing for boys and girls in a variety of sizes. There are no requirements to shop, Buckler said, and the store is available to anyone in the LISD boundary.
To increase accessibility, the Clothes Closet opened a second location at River Place Elementary School in the southern part of LISD in November 2021.
Run primarily by volunteers, the Clothes Closet is always receiving donations, and there is often a need for help with sorting and organizing, Buckler said. Only a third of all donations are able to be used as many of them are stained, torn, inappropriate for school or not in the right sizes, she said.
“We spend a great deal of time going through [donations],” she said. “We try to keep only the best of the best.”Prospective volunteers must undergo a background check and register with the district. Students are encouraged to volunteer, especially to help judge trendy items.“There’s so many things in right now, it’s hard to tell,” Buckler said. “So we let [student volunteers] go through all those bins, and [we’re like,] ‘Let’s pull aside things we don’t think kids are going to wear.’”
Donations that cannot be used at the Clothes Closet are generally recycled to Fill The Bins, a veteran-owned organization that provides a convenient way for disposal of unwanted clothes, shoes and textiles.
Reselling items is not allowed at LISD PTA Clothes Closet, and the organization does not have an operating budget. The Clothes Closet only operates off donations, and Buckler said at times it is hard to meet the needs of the community.Clothes Closet Chair Dannielle Romero-Vázquez said funding is the biggest challenge for the LISD PTA Clothes Closet.
“We really rely on our community to help us fund this program,” she said. “We have to watch every dime that goes out, and we don’t have a lot to begin with.” Twice a year, Just Between Friends—a franchise consignment shop—donates $500 to the LISD PTA Clothes Closet. The funding is used to purchase shoes and clothing for the Clothes Closet. On top of providing free clothing for students in LISD, the Clothes Closet has also donated to Ascension Seton Hospital, Mobile Loaves & Fishes—a social outreach ministry that serves the homeless—halfway houses and other organizations. Additionally, the Clothes Closet has helped clothe refugees, tornado victims, fire victims and children in foster homes.
Buckler said recently the organization was added to the Williamson County Emergency List to provide clothing in crisis situations.
“I would like for the community to come and see what we do,” Buckler said. “See how it’s making a difference in the lives of the kids in our community.”
Leander ISD PTA Clothes Closet
A: 324 S. West Drive, Leander
B: 6500 Sitio Del Rio Blvd., Portable No. 3, Austin
Hours: Every Tue. and first Sat. of the month 10 a.m.-noon, every first and third Wed. from 5-7 p.m. Schedule follows the LISD district calendar.