Short sleeve button downs. There are few that can pull them off, and my sweet father is not one of them. He recently discovered this (through some gentle prodding on my part), and thus began an extensive fashion consulting, closet cleaning, crap dumping session with the mission to teach Phil fashion.
As we stripped my dad’s racks of that blue shirt he has ten of, that bright green plaid shirt that he never wears, and of course, the short sleeve button downs, a thought occurred to me - there are kids all over the world, no, all over my school, that have the opportunity to experience real world environments like Youth in Government, Mock Trial, internships, college interviews and board meetings, but do not have the resources or appropriate dress to be comfortable and successful in these environments. I am grateful to have been allowed a leadership position at the NHS YIG program for the past two years, and I cannot count how many times I have heard kids say, “Well, I would like to go, but I don’t have a suit.” Initially, I responded with the assumption that these peers were simply too lazy to go out and purchase proper clothes, until I finally realized that many of them didn’t have the funds to do so. No one wants to feel ostracized because of what they are wearing, and unfortunately, I began to recognize this happening all too often at high school conventions, due to the demographic of students who could afford to attend. I learned that the scholarships for low income families to send their children to these programs existed, but teens were being robbed of these opportunities by fear, peer pressure, and embarrassment. With this new awareness, I decided to start a new project - The NEXT Foundation Closet.
The NEXT Foundation Closet is a portable warehouse of professional clothing that provides students with appropriate attire for real world environments. Donated clothing will be screened for quality, modesty, and practicality, and students will be allowed to rent out new and used articles free of charge, granted they return the item within 7 days, in it’s original state. If the item is returned late or damaged, the student will no longer be allowed to rent from the Closet. If a student successfully checks out and returns an item 3 times in a row, the student will be allowed to keep it. This system is designed to provide students with the resources they need to be successful, as well as teach them responsibility and ownership through rewarded integrity and enforced consequences.
The Closet will be launched on October 22nd. I am more than thrilled to begin this journey, and I can’t wait to share it with you, so stay tuned for more information on The NEXT Foundation Closet!
Want to get involved? Contact me at email@example.com to donate, rent, or with any questions or comments. I would love to hear what you think!