NHS, ESL teacher provide clothing to students in need

Room C200 is home to a variety of clothing that is available to students and families. ESL teacher Jennifer Stephens collects apparel from students and teachers and anyone is welcome to pick something out. 

“There are so many students in the school who are in need,” Stephens said. “Har-Ber is such a giving and generous school. I just want students to be able to get what they need.”

Several years ago, the donations were only available to ESL students.

“During parent-teacher conferences when the learning center students and their families came to talk to teachers, we would let them ‘shop’ and they could take any items they wanted for free,” Stephens said. “Now that we don’t have a learning center, I still collect clothing from mostly teachers, but in the last year, other students have gotten involved.”

According to Stephens, she contacts staff and faculty regarding donations twice a school year.

“I send out an email at the beginning of fall to all the faculty and staff to donate cold-weather clothes,” Stephens said. “Towards the beginning of spring, I’ll send the same email for warm weather clothes and shoes.”

Clubs such as National Honor Society have partnered with Stephens and hosted a coat drive. Although NHS has been collecting coats for a longer period of time, both NHS and Stephens have made it their goal to help students and families. NHS members earn one community service hour per coat or hoodie they donate.

“National Honor Society began collecting coats a number of years before Ms. Stephens began her project,” NHS Facilitator Charles Nokes said. “We emphasized winter coats because a number of our students and their families were not prepared for Ozark winters. We make this apparel available upstairs to the Language Academy.”

This year, students also have the opportunity to select gently used prom dresses and men’s dress shirts.

“There have been some teachers who have donated men’s dress shirts, ties, and slacks,” Stephens said. “I have some really nice men’s shoes. I’ve got prom dresses. Girls can come in and take them to the bathroom and try them on.”

In addition to providing free coats, formal attire, and shoes, students are also able to pick out an article of clothing if they are dress coded.

“If there are students who are not in dress code, a lot of teachers will send them to me to get a piece of clothing that is in dress code,” Stephens said.

Nokes is hopeful more clothing will be continued to be donated.

“I am pleased to be a part of this great tradition here at Har-Ber,” Nokes said. “I am sure that through NHS and persons like Ms. Stephens, it will continue for years to come. The long and short of it is that Har-Ber has a long and collaborative tradition of providing primarily winter apparel to our student body.”