PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Since 1964, the PTA Clothing Center has been helping Portland public school students look and feel good. But lately the need has been greater than ever.
“Our record day this year and since we’ve been in existence has been 90 kids in one day,” said Sharon Meigh-Chang, the PTA Clothing Center director. “It was a record breaking day this September.”
Students from any Portland public school can use the Portland Council PTA Clothing Center at Franklin High School at the Marshall Campus as a resource. They’re open each Monday and Thursday through April, and on a typical day Meigh-Chang said they see 30 to 40 students. Overall they serve about 2000 students a year.
“The need right now is especially great for warm winter coats and having hats and gloves,” she told KOIN 6 News. “We’ve been running out of those. As you can see the shelves are getting pretty bare for that.”
The all-volunteer group often gets gently-used clothes, but anyone who wants to donate new items or money will have their donation put to good use. They especially need coats for kids 8 and older.
“We have cash donations that people give us and that goes specifically for buying new socks, jeans and underwear so that the kids when they do visit they get some new items, too,” she said.
A lot of families need these resources to help get them through the tough times. The tough housing and rental market spills over into the schools, she said.
For some of the students, getting a new item from the PTA Clothing Center is the first new clothing item they’ve gotten.
“When kids get a new item it just brightens their day,” she said. “They’ll put it on and they’ll beam and they’ll be like, ‘I get this.’ It’s so wonderful when people can give new things, whether it’s corporate donations or having a group, a church group had donated some coats and stuff for the kids.”
Meigh-Chang said last Monday some 5th or 6th graders came in and got brand new shoes for the very first time.
“He was so proud that he got to wear something brand new like the other kids. He goes, ‘I’m going to be just like the other kids. I’ve got new stuff.’ So having them have that experience and gladden their heart, I mean it just really touches you.”
The clothing center is a need-based resource for students. “If a family has a need for clothing for their students we’re here for them,” she said.
But the shelves are thin for warm winter clothes, and she wants to be able to have the items students will need when the weather really changes.
“I want them to be able to be at the bus stop or walking home from school and be warm,” she told KOIN 6 News.
The clothes make the students feel “great about themselves and anytime your self-esteem is boosted you’re going to do better. You’re going to do better in school or better in life,” she said.
Cash donations can be made to:
PTA Clothing Center
4506 SE Belmont, Suite 108B
For more info on donating clothing: firstname.lastname@example.org