By Angels' Closet Charities
School started recently for those in the Redlands Unified district, and for most students, that means there was a recent trip to the mall or Target for back-to-school shopping.
Teenagers are winging car doors shut and waving off mom as they show off their new clothes and check out who is -- and who isn’t -- wearing the latest fashions.
But some children have just one thing to wear, possibly the same one thing they wore last year. Some are wearing shoes a size or two too small, or with holes in them.
For some children in our community, showing up and walking down the hall with head held high is too hard. It takes an extreme motivation to show up to campus to be educated if you feel like you don’t fit in.
And believe it. If you don’t have good and clean clothes, you do not feel like you fit in.
For some children, their one outfit is out of style, or it’s dirty, or it’s ripped, or the other students are starting to notice they’ve worn the same thing every day so far.
Could you get up and put that one shirt back on, and show up, and walk down those halls, and sit in the classrooms facing that kind of peer response?
If you could, how well would you focus on academics in that environment of stress and humiliation? How much would you learn?
We exist to be angels to those children, and so should everybody.
These students need the support of each member of their community, because the basics -- good shoes, undergarments, five outfits, toiletries, and assistance with senior-year expenses -- can be all the boost they need to get to that diploma, get a job and start contributing to society.
When they are made fun of for not having the things most of us take for granted they become discouraged - as we have already seen happen in the short few weeks since school began, it means absence.
More than that, it means shame. It means not learning trade skills. It means not being competitive for college. It means missing the only meals that would have been available that day. It means another citizen of our town has a hampered path to a self-efficient future
These things impact all of us.
Many of these students will work toward success even if it’s hard; they just need it to be a little less hard.
And when they make it, they deserve to show up to commencement and receive that diploma maybe more than anyone. It’s tragic when the inability to acquire a cap and gown can keep them from walking at graduation with their fellow students.
These children are our own. They’re Redlanders and Highlanders and Mentonites.
We should all be their angels.
Angels Closet Charities is a non-profit organization that provides in-style clothing to middle- and high-school children within the Redlands Unified School District by recommendation of counselors and other RUSD adults -- all at no cost to the student. To contribute new clothes, shoes, school supplies, toiletries or money, or to sponsor a student's senior-year expenses. Contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org
Submit your thoughts
Op-eds may be on any subject and may be any length. They will be edited for grammar and to meet our standards for civility.