Students sorted through the piles and piles of clothes that were collected at Explorer K-8 for "Family Share Night."
"We have been collecting for about three weeks now," said assistant principal Vivian Sweeney.
The idea for the collection came from the School Advisory Enhancement Council. During the cold weather, students were seen without jackets and wearing flimsy shoes. SAC suggested a clothing exchange for families that could benefit.
After receiving the support of principal John Stratton, Sweeney began coordinating the collection with the school's social worker, Shalene Lavore. They decided to make the exchange a family event with a spaghetti dinner and door prizes.
"We thought it'd be something nice," Sweeney said. "We have a great school and great families."
Everyone in school was invited, and the clothing was organized on tables and racks for the Feb. 10 event. Spaghetti dinners, made with 200 pounds of pasta donated by Sweetbay Supermarket, cost only $2.
Participating families were given a bag and told to take what they needed. The event included a book exchange. The school had invited community resources to provide information, such as HEART Literacy and Hernando County School Board Student Services. Adding to the festive air, some of the many businesses that partner with Explorer donated coupons, gift certificates or other items to give away.
The shirts, shoes, pants, skirts, dresses, coats, jackets, pajamas, bathing suits, infant clothes and towels were sorted according to size and gender. Everything was washed, either at school or by teachers or parents. Stained and torn items were discarded.
Fourth-grader Zachary Krafick, 10, said that while he was sorting he was surprised by the number of girls' items.
"There's actually some really nice clothes in there," sixth-grader Brianna Johnson, 11, said. "It's kind of like going through Goodwill, the old and new, except this is free."
Sixth-grader Ana Martinez, 11, said, "It helps the families that can't buy clothes for their kids."
Vanessa Jackson, 12, also in sixth grade, liked the idea of a giveaway, too. "I think it will help the parents in the recession. It's hard to buy clothes and keep the bread and milk in the house," she said.
Sixth-grader Rebecca Crayton, 12, said: "I feel bad for people who can't afford to buy clothes. You wouldn't want to be wearing stained or ripped clothing."
Second-grader Cayman Ogden, 8, said the school was having the event "because they want to help people who don't have clothes and are poor."