Are there clothes in your closet that you haven’t worn in ages? They could help students at Hagerstown Community College land a coveted job or internship, while streamlining your wardrobe.
Bonnie Saunders, the coordinator of internship and job services at HCC, knew of career clothing drives at other colleges and kept the idea in the back of her mind.
While attending a Leadercast Women workshop put on by women at Worx Graphics last fall, Saunders was inspired to “push forward” and make the idea a reality.
She shared her idea with the dean of students at HCC, Christine Ohl-Gigliotti, and got permission to form a committee to help with the project. The committee has met twice a month since the fall and generated many ideas for the inaugural project.
The result is HCC’s Career Closet, a clothing drive of new and gently used professional clothing and accessories. Jackets, shirts, blouses, skirts, pants, suits, shoes, ties, scarves and accessories are needed.
“Because we’re a community college, a lot of our students are first-generation college students. They might be the first professionals in their family,” Saunders said.
With a diverse student population of all ages and career fields, the need for clothing runs the gamut from suits to polo shirts and khakis, in all sizes.
The drive runs through Feb. 28 with drop-off boxes at each building on HCC’s campus and at six partner sites – Fives Cinetic, Middletown Valley Bank, Volvo Group of Hagerstown, Washington County Chamber of Commerce, Washington County Public Schools main offices and Worx Graphics.
A sampling of the collection will be showcased in a fashion show on campus on March 19 at the Student Center at 11:30 a.m. Then, there will be a two-day event on March 20 and 21 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. with “personal shoppers” to help anyone with an HCC student ID put together an interview or work ensemble.
“We wanted to be able to offer any student that came to the event at least one outfit,” Saunders said.
People also will help students with resumé writing and interview skills. There will be a table for people to learn how to tie a tie.
Saunders said people can contact her for more information at [email protected] or 240-500-2260.
“It’s interesting how this has blossomed. I have been absolutely honored and impressed with the community outpouring of support,” Saunders said. “It has just absolutely grown beyond my wildest dreams.”
There has been strong volunteer support for collecting and sorting the clothing, which is beginning to fill up an empty room in the college’s Technical Innovation Center.
Saunders said 70 to 90 HCC students a year do internships, which often lead to job offers and good references for future employment.
She sees the Career Closet as a celebratory event of the community coming together to support HCC students in reaching their goals.
“It’s been a labor of love, a fun project. I’m so excited to offer it to students,” Saunders said.