Three available resources to help create community

Opportunities provide way to help others or options to request needs

November 15, 2021

Having the correct resources can help students exponentially when they enter school every day.  At Park there are many clubs that can help benefit students’ basic needs including food, clothing and a safe space.  Without knowledge of the resources available, many of the resources for students go unused.

The Clothing Closet

For students in need of clothing, look no further than The Clothing Closet. This student-run organization offers an assortment of clothing, available to all Park students and free of charge. Senior Student manager Riley Swanson emphasizes the importance of this accessible outlet.

“It’s like a thrift store, but everything’s free. We just help out kids that are in need of clothes,” Swanson said.

At the head of operations is Sophia Ross, a teacher in the business and marketing department. In her Community Service and Business Partnerships class, students must fulfill an array of volunteer activities — Clothing Closet being one of them. According to Ross, students who run The Clothing Closet must maintain a steady supply of clothes.

“Every single morning, the student managers bring out one rolling rack full of clothing and students can take what they need and then they replenish that clothing rack,” Ross said.

According to Swanson, The Clothing Closet aims to be a welcoming safe-haven for students who are going through tough times. 

“The mission of (The) Clothing Closet is telling people that they aren’t alone and that we understand; that there are outlets; that you can be here; and that we are here directly in your community,” Swanson said.

Similarly, junior Gillian Kapinos said the purpose of this organization is to not only cater to students in need of clothing but to provide a safe-space for them as well. 

“Our mission is to help the students feel comfortable at school and be able to go home and feel comfortable there too,” Kapinos said. “They have a place here (where) they can get the stuff they need without feeling like they don’t (have it).”

During homecoming season, students flocked to The Clothing Closet to utilize its various supply of clothing, according to Ross. 

“We were really busy during homecoming week. We had students coming in and getting dress shirts and semiformal dresses so that they had something to wear during homecoming,” Ross said. 

At the end of the day, this student-organized outlet provides a space for anyone in need of clothing, according to Swanson. 

“We’re helping out our own community, as St. Louis Park high school, and helping out students and families,” Swanson said.

The Clothing Closet is located in B220, and its hours vary day-by-day. They are displayed on the door in front of the room. 

Birdfeeder prioritizes students’ need

The Park Birdfeeder collects food items for students in need and strives to make sure every student is prepared to learn with healthy nutrition. The food shelf packs bags for students every day of the week. 

Due to a year online, Birdfeeder supervisor Sophia Ross said the food shelf aims to make sure every student is aware of the opportunities offered at Park. 

“Since we weren’t in-person we weren’t able to carry out donating food to students,” Ross said. “Now we just need to let students know that we are open for business and they can fill out a request form, completely confidential down in the student services offices and then we will fill their meal packs,snack packs or whatever they request.” 

While packing the donations, senior volunteer Thomas Guenzel said they must pay attention to the disparity in foods in order to ensure that every student’s request is being recognized. 

“We prioritize making sure we have a variety of food,” Guenzel said. “Whenever somebody requests something, we do our best to have it and give it out to them.” 

Bringing focus to the food shelf came easy with the donation competition held in Park Connections these last few weeks, according to Ross. 

“Our goal this year is to recreate awareness for what the Bird Feeder is and we did that by having this clash of connections, competition in all Park Connections classes to draw awareness around who the Bird Feeder is and that we needed food to donate for students,” Ross said. 

As a student in the Community Service class, junior Ava Hart said the food shelf has been progressing due to the many donations they have been receiving. 

“We have been able (to get donations) from a lot of places because people have food they don’t need in their pantries that they want to donate here,“ Hart said.

The Birdfeeder appreciates any donation, no matter the size or helpfulness of the item, Guenzel expressed. 

“Doesn’t matter how big or small it is, a donation is a donation,” Guenzel said. “And no matter what it’s gonna help.“

For those interested in Birdfeeder, request forms can be found outside of room B226 and in the student services office. To donate, bring your non-perishable food items at the Student Office, District Office, or room B226. 

TreeHouse Hope

Since 1979, TreeHouse Hope has been helping Minnesota teens create a community. Through mentorship programs, retreats and other events TreeHouse staff member Amanda Densieski said she hopes the program can make teens feel welcome. 

“(TreeHouse is a) community that teens get to experience to help them heal and remind them that they are loved,” Densieski said. 

After going for the past three years, sophomore Bella Thalhuber said TreeHouse offers her an outlet to talk about her emotions and spend time with her friends. 

“I really liked doing one-on-ones, where you’re just with one of the staff,” Thalhuber said. “And obviously every day, getting to see my friends and watching the boys play basketball.”

The support and community sophomore Solei Ceballos has been able to gain from TreeHouse since she started attending programming in seventh grade, is one of the reasons she continues to return. 

“Pros (of TreeHouse are) all the support you get, free food and getting to hang out with a lot of people and (with) different people (you) usually don’t hang out with and making connections with staff members,” Ceballos said. 

Densieski said she is proud of the important work the organization does for the community 

“It’s a safe place to experience deeper relationships and have the ability to be honest and vulnerable,” Densieski said. 

Despite feeling as if having more staff at events could be beneficial, Celballos recommends TreeHouse to any teens looking for a community.

“If you need somewhere to go or want to meet new people or you just feel like you don’t actually have people to go to to talk about stuff but you do want some sort of support by other people in a safe space, TreeHouse is the best for that,” Celballos said. 

If you are interested in joining TreeHouse visit their Instagram @treehoushope or go to their website. 

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