For many students at Berkeley High School (BHS), clothing is a major mode of self-expression. The mix of styles is one of the defining features of BHS, a school known for being wild and unique. BHS’s diversity means its student body is made up of teens from many different backgrounds, with some lacking access to certain basic needs such as clothing or personal hygiene products. A new club, the BHS Open Closet, has been established to address this issue.
Open Closet was established by BHS senior Mailene Guerrero at the beginning of this school year. “It originally started off with my mother telling me about this dream that she had in high school, how she wanted to create something like [the Open Closet], and how she couldn’t … and I’ve always been inspired to create something like it,” she said.Open Closet collects donations and provides students with access to those resources. Guerrero said, “We open up our club once a week … and students who are in need can come [in] that day and take whatever they need free of charge.”
Susan Warren, the faculty sponsor, explains that the club is “seeking a variety of styles and sizes of clothing for teens … and new hygiene products, [like] razors, shampoo, soap, toothbrushes or toothpaste, deodorant, as well as new socks or under garments.” Donations can be brought to room C-216 before or after school. Guerrero pointed out that a lot of BHS students have old or never-worn clothes that other teens could really use, and that buying an extra toothpaste to donate is easy and affordable. “We are also in need of a rack… ethically, we want our students to be able to go through the clothes on a rack instead of digging through bins,” Guerrero added.
The Open Closet is having a launch event on October 25 during lunch, with clothing and hygiene products for all students, free of charge. “It will also be an opportunity for students to bring clothes that they no longer want or that they want to exchange, as well as any [monetary] donations,” Guerrero said. She hopes to raise students’ awareness of the club and the issues it’s working against, and to inspire more involvement in what they’re doing. “I really want [the club to expand], I want people to know more about it, and it’s not just to help the students at our school, it’s to help anyone; anyone who’s in need, anyone who’s homeless or low income,” Guerrero said.
The Open Closet works to provide students with clothing and hygiene products and to help erase the stigma surrounding poverty and lack of resources. Lijin Zeng, the vice president of the club, wants students in need to know that they’re “supported by the community, that [their] club is here to help them, and that they don’t need to be afraid.” Warren hopes that in the future, “students can feel more comfortable stopping by if they need to.’’