For some Sinton ISD students and their families, times are tough. Even before the pandemic, some students were having a hard time just getting the basic necessities like clothes and personal hygiene items.

It was two years ago that E. Merle Smith Middle School English teacher Elizabeth Moody came down from Houston and saw the need and decided to start the Caring Closet.

“It’s something that I started for kids on campus that don’t have resources that other kids might have,” Moody said. “It’s to level the playing field.

“All of it is donated – clothes, shoes, toiletries, backpacks, anything – and we have it all the way up from little kids to adult sizes.

“As a teacher at the middle school, I see students walking the halls wearing some of the same clothes day after day. This affects them socially, emotionally, and academically.  If a student feels confident in their outward appearance, then it will directly affect their academic success. 

“I think we can all agree that we want our students to be successful, now and in the future.”  

She said that since its inception the closet has grown from an actual classroom closet to where it now takes up an entire room. Everything is organized with shelves and clothing racks and students even get community service time if they volunteer to keep it neat.

“This year we had students not wanting to come back to school because their clothes didn’t fit and they hadn’t had a chance to go back-to-school shopping,” Moody added. “The principal brought them in and they were able to pick out five outfits and ended up coming back to school.

“In essence, that was my goal – help our families.

“We are a Title 1 district, meaning our families struggle financially.  I don’t want something like clothes or shoes to be why our students don’t come to school if we can help. Since we are in a pandemic, we have many more community families in need, and the Caring Closet is a positive community resource.”

Every student from all Sinton ISD campuses has access to the Clothing Closet. Moody said that she feels the community doesn’t know about it and should come and take advantage of the free items if they need them and the SSMS campus is always open for donations.

“If you see a potential problem that could be solved, you want to try and do that,” Moody said. “That’s what I am trying to do with the Caring Closet, make everything accessible to all kids.

“I love being here and I love the kids and just want to help them out.”

•pgonzales@mysoutex.com•

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