Students find clothes and more at the Works

by Finley Stroh, Associate Editor

From its beginning as a clothing donation center in a school closet to a store in the Shoreline Center today, The Works has been serving the Shoreline community for more than 20 years.

The Works at times has also connected those in need to additional resources and presents a workplace environment for students in special education programs, all while encouraging teens in need to access resources from the Works.

The Works, run by PTA members from a variety of schools in the district, is a place where families living in or attending schools in the district can shop for free for gently used donated clothing and shoes. Families can make appointments for Wednesdays 6:30-8 p.m. Clothing donations can be made in person, as well as money donations for necessary items through The Works webpage.

Jill Steinberg, chairperson, has served as volunteer chair of The Works going on six years after volunteering for The Works two years prior, as she has always had a passion for volunteering in the community. She highlights the great need of support that The Works brings to the community, donating to around 300 families with 800 students collectively in a non-COVID-19 year, and about 200 families with 475 students, last year. “We’ve seen there’s definitely a need to have this clothing resource in the communities. If families don’t have to spend money on clothes they can save their money and put it towards other basic needs or goals, so we’re happy to be there for that,” Steinberg said.

She hopes to see an increase in teens at The Works, encouraging more high school students in need to reach out to them, while also recognizing the hesitation students may have. They are eager to work with what teens are comfortable with, Steinberg said. “We would love to see more high school students here at The Works. When the adults come on Wednesday nights, we usually don’t see too many high school students,” she said. “We understand it can be embarrassing and uncomfortable for students to be here and if they need private appointments, we’ll do what it takes to get those students here if they need clothes.”

Steinberg encourages students to reach out to their counselors or family advocates that The Works communicates with as a way to get into contact with their services, as well as through the support of peers, if someone knows a peer in need of clothing. Steinberg also wants to thank the Shoreline School District for all their support. “The district has been a huge supporter of The Works and provides this space for free because they recognize there’s a need,” Steinberg said. 

Renée Leveque Wass, a Shorecrest Special Education Teacher/District Based Transition Program at the District, has been leading her students to volunteer in The Works environment for the past two to three years. Prior to COVID-19, in this workplace environment, Wass shared that the students were able to gain skills including positive work behavior, essential retail work skills, independence of vocational skills, following a work schedule and team leader skills, to lead them to successful careers.

“Students develop vocational and behavioral skills suitable for preparing the student for a successful experience in either supported employment or community employment,” she said.

From sorting and evaluating the quality of donated clothing, to light custodial work, and more, Wass said,  “students’ tasks would vary depending on interest, skill level, and preference.”

To set up a private ‘shopping’ appointment, receive support from the works, or get in contact with the works, email: [email protected]