How a closet full of clothes in Atwater is making a difference

MERCED COUNTY, Calif. (KFSN) -- Atwater High School is finding creative ways to meet the needs of its students, even outside the classroom.

The social pressures of high school can be difficult, especially when a family is facing financial hardships. But now Atwater High School has found a unique way to help students in need. Several teachers started collecting new and gently used clothes at the start of the year and have set up a room where students can "shop" for free.

Teacher Sandy Beard said, "I had one student that I was able to bring in some suits and they were bigger suits, and when he got one he said now if he wanted to go to the prom he'd have a suit for the prom."

The room is called "Freddy's Closet," named after the campus mascot. Students can set up individual appointments to protect their privacy.

"Mostly male sweatshirts are on this side..."

Teacher Tiffany Gossman helped one young man after she noticed he was still wearing shorts on cold winter days.

Gossman said, "He came in and looked around and I said what style do you want, we were looking at jeans, and he said I don't care the style I just want pants."

The items are donated by staff members and other local residents. One donor brought Gossman to tears by sharing her own struggles as a child.

Gossman explained, "She knew what it felt like to be that kid and didn't want others to feel that way."

Freddy's Closet has taken a group effort, from administrators to custodians to students who help wash and sort the items. And it's just one part of a bigger imitative called the 20 Percent Project, in which teachers can choose from a variety of outreach programs.

It's all part of a plan to help students excel in and out of the classroom.

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