Bakersfield Teacher Creates Clothes Bank For Students

05/20/2015 10:08 am ET | Updated May 20, 2015

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Susan Holloway has always had a passion for helping children, which is why she became a teacher 14 years ago. Now, she’s helping kids outside of the classroom with a clothes bank from which students can access free clothing.

Holloway started her career at a middle school with primarily low-income students in Bakersfield, Calif. “I would see students struggling, just not having the basic needs of clothing,” she explained. “When a student doesn’t have the basic needs, how do I expect a student in my class to even focus or concentrate?”

Holloway noticed that the kids in her school were worried about how they looked, causing them to be distracted by what they didn’t have. It affected their self-worth, she said. After speaking with her principal, the inspired teacher set up a clothing bank in an old classroom. The "store" stocked tops, bottoms, shoes, jackets and more. At first, clothing donations came in from family, friends and colleagues -- but soon the community pitched in, and the clothing bank became an instant success.

“Instead of focusing on how I appear to people, I can focus on my grades,” a student and clothing bank patron said.

After seeing the positive response in her pupils, Holloway took her efforts a step further and made arrangements with her superintendent to expand the clothing bank to the entire school district. Now it services over 9,000 students and has made a significant impact on their everyday lives. “I felt a calling that I needed to do something,” she said. "Anyone can do this and help their students.”

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