“No student should miss a day of school due to inappropriate or inadequate clothing or school supplies.” That’s the mission statement for Albuquerque Public School’s Community Clothing Bank and School Supply Barn.
Erin Leue-Chavez, facilitator at the APS Clothing Bank and School Supply Barn, said there is a need for donations all over the city. “We get requests from all of these schools as well,” she said while pointing at the La Cueva school zone on a city map. “This is our Monday delivery route. We’re busy. It’s a full day for us sometimes because there’s such a need even in this area. Even at Double Eagle and North Star that feed into La Cueva, we have needs there. Not as often, but Osuna, Arroyo del Oso, some at Dennis Chavez. So, I’m not trying to name all the schools. I could name all over the city. I’m just basically trying to demonstrate that there’s needs everywhere.”
Leue-Chavez said there was a 27% increase in requests for donations during the 2021-22 school year compared to the previous year. “And we still served students during COVID. They were still in school, and they would arrange for the family to do a drive-thru and come and pick up, so the needs were still there.”
On Tuesday, the APS Clothing Bank and School Supply Barn at 1730 University Blvd. had rows full of notebooks, markers, calculators, socks, underwear and other clothes ready to be delivered to students in need. Leue-Chavez said the clothing bank provides a wide range of sizes from toddler to adult. “Our transition services is one of those adult programs, 18-22. They’re still considered APS students, but they’re in an adult life skills program. So, we serve all sizes.”
In addition to normal school clothes, the clothing bank also provides donations for students going on interviews and for students who need something to wear to the prom. “We really want to make sure that when the students receive items that they get them when they need them as quickly as possible and that they’re the right items that they need,” Leue-Chavez said.
The Title I McKinney Vento Program, which has a food bank across the hall from the school supply barn and clothing bank, estimates there are about 4,000 homeless or unaccompanied youth in Albuquerque. “It’s a high percentage of kids who are living in a hotel, living in a car, living on a couch of an aunt or uncle. It’s all transitional housing,” Leue-Chavez explained. “The resiliency that you see, for some kids, if they can just be given some of the tools.
“Having school supplies, having the backpack you need, not having to borrow a pencil from a friend, having the binder to keep all your papers organized so you can do your homework and be on time and learn. Those are some of the smaller things that we don’t really think about, some of the things that provide, and the ability to just help support the kids that need it,” she continued.
Leue-Chavez said August is one of the busiest times of year for her staff. “Pre-COVID our busiest totals were about 600. Last year, first year back from COVID, were 858-plus,” Leue-Chavez said regarding clothing requests.
As far as school supplies, Leue-Chavez said she receives an increase in requests as students prepare to go back to school after summer break. Of the following items needed for donations, she said USB drives, earphones and combination locks are some that are requested more frequently. Individuals, corporations, nonprofits or others wishing to make a donation can use the following list to provide needed items:
• 2-inch binders
• Combination locks
• Scientific calculators
• Bottle white glue
• White board cleaner
• Dry erase markers
• Fine tip markers
• Broad tip markers
• Mechanical pencils (0.7 mm)
• Lead refills (0.7 mm)
• Wide-ruled paper
• College-ruled paper
• Spiral notebooks (college-ruled)
• Composition books (wide- and college-ruled)
• Dividers (five-tab)
• Copy paper
• Graph paper
• Water paint sets
• Pencil sharpeners
• USB drive 4.0
• Grocery bags (reusable bags, cloth bags and paper bags)
To donate at 1730 University Blvd. SE, call 505-248-1873 to make an appointment. Donations can be dropped off without an appointment at one of the collection boxes at APS Administrative Offices, 6400 Uptown Blvd. NE; and APS Northwest Diagnostic Center, 6450 Western Trail NW.
For more information about the APS Community Clothing Bank and School Supply Barn, visit aps.edu/community/clothing-bank.