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Clay County ‘Giving Closet' Connects Students In Need With New Clothes

Ryan Benk

It’s easier than ever for needy Clay County students to get clothing.

That’s after a Jacksonville-based nonprofit opened a clothes closet Friday at Orange Park High School.

Clay Schools Superintendent Addison Davis used a pair of oversized scissors to cut a red ribbon, officially opening what’s called the “giving closet” at the high school.

“This giving closet will allow our students to really be able to compete. Not only inside the classroom, but outside the classroom as well,” he said. “This really allows us to develop, not only the whole child, but the whole family.”

NonprofitDignity U Wear, founded 17 years ago by Holocaust survivor and philanthropist Henri Landwirth, partners with clothing companies and retail stores to give kids new clothes — not hand-me-downs.

Social workers and volunteers in rural areas used to have to pick up clothing boxes at the nonprofit’s downtown Jacksonville warehouse every week.

The long distance meant that some kids in Clay County had to wait a long time for fresh clothes.

Orange Park High social worker Susanne Hall said she’s seen the positive impact new clothes have on students’ lives.

“The first time I had my first student walk in and see it they were like, ‘Wow.’ I mean you should’ve seen their face. They just lit up like a lightbulb. So, that’s when you know you’re on the right track,” she said.

The school district hopes to open more giving closets in other schools in the near future.

Reporter Ryan Benk can be reached at, 904-358-6319 or on Twitter @RyanMichaelBenk.

Ryan Benk is a former WJCT News reporter who joined the station in 2015 after working as a news researcher and reporter for NPR affiliate WFSU in Tallahassee.