TORRANCE, Calif. -- College can be one of the best ways to learn more about yourself and what you want to become. But, for many, it can also be a time of financial struggle, making basic things like affording clothing out of reach.
On the ground floor of El Camino College’s communications building, there’s a small room that houses clothes, shoes, ties, and much more for struggling students to choose from. The hangers hold name brand clothing, but it won’t come with a price tag for students like Raymond Menefee.
“This one’s Calvin Klein. I mean, they have name brands here. It’s nice,” said Menefee, as he took a long-sleeve shirt off the clothing rack.
Menefee said his low income makes it difficult for him to afford new clothes. He has an intellectual disability that prevents him from being able to work. That’s why he said he’s grateful for El Camino College’s Warrior Clothing Closet pop-up, which started in 2019.
“I don’t have a lot of clothes. I think that for most people who are low-income and disabled, for me in particular, low-income, disabled, I can’t go shopping a lot,” Menefee said.
Sharonda Barksdale works with homeless and foster youth students on campus. She created the pop-up named after the school’s mascot, when she realized that many students couldn’t afford to buy clothes. A recent study showed that one in five California community college students were homeless and about 50 percent were food insecure.
“Food and shelter insecurities are two of the biggest things right now that students are facing. Clothing is just another layer to that. So, if there are things that we could provide for the students for free, at no cost, then they can focus more on their education,” Barksdale said.
At the event, Menefee found a beige blazer that fit.
“It’s good for me because I don’t have to go to Macy’s or anything. These are clothes that I actually like to wear,” Menefee said.
He said he’s grateful for the pop-up Barksdale created. That’s why he plans to come back and donate some of his clothes for other students in need.
The Warrior Clothing Closet is currently accepting donations of gently used clothing, shoes, suits and other items for its next event on May 29.
Donations can be dropped off at El Camino College’s Financial Aid office.