As the ribbon was cut on Pleasanton Unified School District's new donation closet last week, Debra Miller cheered.
The donation closet was more than a place for low-income residents to get free clothes, although that is a huge aspect. It's also a place where special-needs students like Miller's son can get ready for retail jobs one day.
"It gives our kids a purpose, and everyone needs a purpose," Miller said.
The district officially opened its donation closet for low-income residents and Village High's first media center at a joint celebration Jan. 28.
The move means Village High will have a library and a dedicated area for its students to do online research. In addition, Village High will be the host space for the new donation closet, which will be open to Pleasanton Unified families and others in the community who need access to donated clothes.
The Hangar, the name of the new donation closet, will be staffed by Pleasanton Unified special-education students, who will learn job skills such as how to stock a room, fold clothes and shop for others.
Students started handing out clothes in December after a soft opening, and so far 239 bags of clothes have been given away, district spokesman Patrick Gannon said.
"I know that he feels really good about being able to help and to have the training," Miller said of her son, Ajay. "At the same time, they're helping needy families."
Special education director Marla Silversmith said allowing special-needs students to run the room will improve their self-confidence and give them marketable skills that they can use after graduation.
The closet will be open to "anyone who has a need" and will be filled with clothing, shoes and other items for adults and children, she said.
"We have everything from baby clothes to suits to rain coats," she added.
The opening of Village High's media center means students will have access to a library and Chromebooks for online research, principal Dana Chavez said.
Up until now, students at Pleasanton's alternative school had to use Pleasanton's public library when they needed to check out books for research.
"We're one of the few sites that doesn't have any sort of library or media center, so the district felt in terms of equity, we have that resource," she said. "It's important for our students to have an experience here that mirrors what they were getting at Amador or Foothill as much as possible."
The media center is in its first phase, which means it's being set up in a former classroom, and administrators hope they'll be able to expand it as funding allows.