School offers closet of free clothes for students, honoring teacher’s memory

LOMBARD, Ill. — The donation box just inside the front doors of Glenbard East High School has not stood empty in months.

"We get backpacks, winter coats, dresses, shoes, you name it," Graham Wendorff, a student, said.

Every day, the bags spilling out of the box are carried down the hall to a giant closet tucked away under the stairs. What used to be an old storage space is known as "Ann's Closet" today. It's named for Ann Banfield, a longtime teacher who passed away in 2011 after years of battling a crippling disease.

"She still showed up every day and gave 100 percent," Kristie Henry, a colleague, said. "When she passed it was really hard on us,"

It was a disease she hid from the students she taught and inspired every day.

"She was just an amazing teacher; not only in the classroom, but with all her volunteer work. She was always giving back to the community and doing service projects with her students," Henry said.

After she passed, the students wanted to keep her memory alive through her humanitarian spirit. So they came up with "Ann's Closet," a giant storage room packed with tons of donated clothing for any student that could use it.

"You don't necessarily know who needs the clothes when you see somebody walking down the hallway. You may know a name or face, but you don't really know who will be down there," Wendorff said.

Since it opened, hundreds of students have visited Ann's Coset and left discreetly with a new bag of clothes.

"It is so good to know her spirit and humanitarian work live on and her students can continue to pay it forward in memory of Ann," Henry said.

More information on clothing drives for Ann's Closet at Glenbard East High School.

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