Her efforts started small.
Casey Moeller wanted a place where students could get professional wear to give a speech or presentation at Whiteland Community High School.
After only one semester of operating the Warrior Wardrobe, at least 75 students have taken items from the school’s clothing pantry. And they don’t just need professional wear, said Moeller, a social studies teacher at the high school.
A student took gym shoes in his hard-to-find size. Warrior fans have taken spirit wear to cheer on the football and basketball teams. Dress clothing disappeared for choir students and those who needed dressy clothing for a field trip to the theater. Coats and gloves were given out when cold weather hit.
What started as a small project with just a few teachers trying to help students get professional clothing for classes has grown into a schoolwide project that clothes kids from all income levels.
“The amount of stuff we have is way more than we expected,” Moeller said. “My initial thing was kids would just come in to get clothes for presentations.”
Teenagers who need a specific hard-to-find piece of clothing can put in requests to organizers at the pantry.
A teen boy was given a pair of size 13 gym shoes. The size is a hard-to-find item in stores, Moeller said.
Students might need something that is just not in their parents’ budget that month. She said teenagers often won’t ask for items they need.
A group of teachers started the pantry over the summer.
They noticed that while students in need could get basics, such as food, for free at the school, they couldn’t get other essential items, such as a coat in the winter or special clothing they needed for some classes, Moeller said.
Word of mouth propelled the clothing pantry to be a popular option for students, she said.
Teachers warned students when they would need dress slacks or a dress to attend a show at the Indiana Repertory Theater. Guidance counselors took requests from students who needed clothing. The shop was even open one evening for kids to pick up clothing.
Students volunteer to screen clothing and donate unused items. A few students wrote a grant to help buy clothing teenagers would wear.
Clothing that isn’t picked by the teenagers is given to a local clothing pantry after being bundled and prepared by special education students at the school.
Part of the success of the shop is students have decided there is no shame in taking charity clothing, Moeller said.
Shopping at Goodwill and thrift shops is trendy, and Moeller credits the popular attitude toward thrift as a reason why the clothing pantry has been a popular option for students.
“It’s really popular nowadays for kids to shop at Goodwill,” she said. “This isn’t a room for just kids who are poor.”