Clothes Closet Project Fitting a Need

Release Date: 6/26/2009

Thanks to an ambitious project coordinated by the Career Services Office, many U of O students and recent graduates will be much better dressed when they go on that all-important job search.

The Clothes Closet Project was started this past spring by Career Services Coordinator Kimberly Spicer and several of her work-study students. The project provides donated business attire to students who are near graduation and who are going on job interviews.

Spicer said she noticed a need for such a project while helping prepare students for job searches and interviews.

“I have talked to several students who tell me that they can’t afford to purchase appropriate interview attire,” Spicer said. “Many of the students are first-generation college graduates in their family, and their parents have never worked in a professional position, so they really don’t know how to purchase professional clothing. And, if they did, they couldn’t afford it.”

Spicer said her office typically helps between 5-10 students purchase business attire each spring.

“I’ve noticed a greater need the past couple of years, and there is only so much we can do,” she said. “I believe the need is even greater than what I know about because I think there are students who don’t want to ask for help. With this project up and running, I think students will be more likely to privately express a need and receive clothing from anonymous donors.”

Torie Parsons, a senior marketing major from Dallas, helped Spicer pull the project together. She researched similar projects at other universities and helped Spicer wade through the numerous tax deductible forms that had to be filed.

“I have a love for fashion and for marketing and business, so this project really interested me,” said Parsons. “And, as a student, I saw that the need was there. There are a lot of people out there with like-new professional clothing in their closets that they never wear and a lot of students out there with no professional clothing at all. That’s why this project can be successful.”

As of May, more than 200 pieces of professional clothing had been donated, mostly by university faculty and staff. Spicer plans to begin reaching out to the local community, alumni and even possibly corporate sponsors for donations in the near future.

“Two hundred pieces of clothing may sound like a lot, but it is a little misleading because that includes separates, like jackets and pants, as well as bags, ties and shoes,” she said. “It’s a good start, but we really want to build up a good inventory.”

Spicer said there is still a tremendous need for men’s clothing, especially dress shirts, pants and suits in all sizes. There is also a need for women’s and men’s dark colored shoes, men’s black socks and women’s hosiery. She emphasized that the donated clothing must be clean, “like-new” professional attire. Monetary donations are also accepted.

Some Ozarks students are financially challenged when it comes to purchasing job interview attire. If you or your spouse has new or gently-worn interview-appropriate attire that you would like to donate, please contact Career Services Coordinator Kimberly Spicer at 479-979-1320.

Items Needed Include:
* Men’s suits and sports jackets
* Women’s pant and skirt suits
* Men’s and women’s separates, such as slacks, shirts and blouses
* Ties, jewelry, scarves and accessories
* New dress socks and nylons
* New or like-new dress shoes
* Briefcases, portfolios and professional pens

Students (from left) Daniela Bermudez Gardea, Torie Parsons and Mayra Hoch sort and organize donated clothing as part of the Clothes Closet Project.