Student closet opens at Easthampton High School, donations being accepted

  • Students leave Easthampton High School at the end of their school day, Friday, Mar. 13, 2020. Classes at the school have been cancelled for two weeks and are slated to resume on March 30. —STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

Staff Writer
Published: 10/17/2022 6:10:48 PM

EASTHAMPTON — The nurse’s office at the high school is offering free, pre-owned clothing to those students who need it through an initiative called EHS Student Closet.

Over the last few months since assuming the role of community social worker, Elizabeth “Liz” Plouffe said that she and Public Health Nurse Bridget Diggins have noticed a need in the community.

“We have both been encountering individuals and families with a number of significant life stressors in recent weeks,” said Plouffe. “Financial concerns are always more challenging when the weather gets colder.”

In addition, Christine Soverow and Hannah Fleischmann of the high school’s guidance department also reached out to the city’s Health Department after several students arrived at Easthampton High soaked, and needing dry and warm clothing to wear on a cold and rainy day. Together, the school and the city department developed an idea to operate a student closet out of the nurse’s office at the school, said Plouffe.

From there, Plouffe said she offered to store and sort clothing at the Health Department and bring items to the school that are appropriate.

“Families have more to manage and pay for this time of year and we are hoping the availability of warm, clean clothing will alleviate one thing that families and teens might be worrying about,” she said.

Easthampton High School Principal Bill Evans said the high school has been collecting and providing clothing to students for some time in various formats as the need has always been existent.

“I think what’s changed is that we’re more forward about making sure our whole community is aware of the resources that are available,” said Evans.

Although the Easthampton Community Center, located at 12 Clark St., does offer gently used clothing through its clothing closet, having clothing items available for students in a location that they already frequently visit provides discreet access, he added.

“It’s a safe place where all the children in town have access to,” he said.

In addition to clothing, Plouffe said the Health Department is speaking with nursing and counseling staff at the high school to identify any other needs they might be seeing, such as toiletries, that the department might be able to provide assistance with.

As the winter months beckon, Evans said that the closet could likely use sweaters, sweatshirts, hats and mittens.

“Some of our students walk to school or ride a bicycle, so items like gloves will make that trip to and from school a little easier,” he said.

Plouffe also noted that there is a significant need for T-shirts and leggings.

Donations of new or gently used items are being accepted at the Health Department, located at 50 Payson Ave., Monday through Thursday, from 7 a.m. to 445 p.m.

Those with additional questions should call Plouffe at 413-278-1285.

Emily Thurlow can be reached at ethurlow@gazettenet.com.
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