Chicago-area school offers laundry services, clothes to students in need

BLUE ISLAND, Ill. -- One south suburban high school is finding a new way to take care of its students.

In a school where every child qualifies for free lunch, many of those teens are not just worried about their next meal, they are also worried about the clothes they wear to class.

Teachers at Eisenhower High School teachers have felt there was a need for some time.  They see students wearing the same hoodie or pair of jeans over and over again. Not because it was their favorite, but because they didn't have other options at home.

So the teachers – with help from students – are doing something about it.

"You have a number of kids who don't come for a number of reasons, we didn't want limited access to clean clothes to be one of those obstacles,” says Principal Erik Briseno.

So Principal Briseno and District 218 permitted and helped pay for a washer and dryer so kids -during the school day- can discreetly toss their dirty clothes in the washer before first period, throw them in the dryer at lunch and take them home clean after school.

The program is called “The Closet.” Confidentiality is critical.  It’s only advertised by word of mouth and the occasional flier in the hall.

Right now about 5-10 students wash their clothes regularly at school. But nearly a hundred or more also have been shopping at the school's Closet. It opened in December.

Jeans, coats, socks and shoes are all part of the Closet's program for school students in need. Most of the clothes donated, even these prom dresses. Some items have never been worn, socks and underwear always come with new tags.

All of it is offered at no cost. And no questions asked.

Clothing donations come from all over. But the school is seeing there is a great need for new items, personal items and toiletries-so the need for money rather than clothes is increasing.

More information at the school’s website