PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – A dusty classroom has been converted to a place that can feed and clothe a community, and a Philadelphia teenager was a big part of it.
On a recent afternoon, 17-year-old Alayshia Bridges combed clothing racks for the perfect outfit for fellow students, but they weren’t in a store, and not in a thrift shop. She was in the Community School Closet at South Philadelphia High School.
Alayshia explained it’s “a classroom renovated inside this building and it’s decorated as a mini retail store, but everything’s free.”
The senior has been instrumental in getting this room ready and filled with donated clothes, food, toiletries, and more. She even won a Young Heroes Award from the National Liberty Museum.
“It’s a great help to have that inside school and for people outside in our community,” Alayshia said.
Janelle Harper, community school coordinator for the mayor’s office of education, said visitors are loving the Community School Closet. “It’s almost just when they come in here, it’s like, ‘Oh my God, it’s an actual store.'”
Janelle said it got off the ground when a church donated 40 bags worth of clothing. Then teachers, community members, and students added to it.
“And it has come from something that was just coats, hats, and gloves last year to 5,000 things have been given out since then,” Janelle said.
The Community School Closet is not open just to students. The community at large can come and shop, too.
Every donation helps. One of the biggest needs is sneakers, which can be worn year-round. “Some kids wear like the same sneakers for like a whole school year and try to fit into them the next year,” Alayshia said.
South Philadelphia High School principal Kimlime Chek-Taylor says the Community School Closet makes kids want to come to school. “They feel they can come to the closet and not feel ashamed or looked down upon because they need something to wear,” she said.
Alayshia said, “We’re all humans, and they see that and they relate off of that.”
If you want to drop off things like clothes, food and toiletries for the Community School Closet, you can contact the school to arrange a drop-off. The general number is 215-400-8400, and the community school coordinator can be reached at Janelle.Harper@phila.gov