McNary Kloset was unveiled at McNary High School last week to much fanfare. The Kloset is open and serving students who are in need.

The project came from the collective minds of Audrey Butler and Stephanie Wittman of the Keizer Network of Women (KNOW) a Keizer Chamber Foundation group along with counselor Kim Pittsley and assistant principal Rhonda Rhodes at McNary.

Ms. Butler intended to donate some unused clothing to a consignment shop but she said something told her to call the school before proceeding. She asked the school if there was a need for clothing and found there is a great need for clothing for students in need. And the clothing was just the start.

McNary Kloset is now housed in a former teacher’s lounge in a school that is bursting at the seams. Though space is a premium at McNary the Kloset will put that space to good use.

The McNary Kloset is a cupboard for students who are in  need of a piece of clothing or two. Besides clothing the Kloset also offers food and snacks and, importantly for students, toiletry items.

Any visitor to the Kloset on opening day saw racks of jackets, pants, shirts, tops, a few pairs of shoes, tooth brushes and paste and other personal items and food—a meal or a snack.

The unfortunate reality is that there are students in our community that face shortages of the basic needs of daily life. McNary Kloset is not a ‘come anytime’ place, it requires a request and an escort. That’s not to limit who uses the room but to protect the dignity of the recipients of its bounty.

McNary Kloset is a low-cost  way to provide for those who are in need through no fault of their own. The project is not tax-payer supported and is not victim to any bureaucratic maze—it is the result of caring and sharing Keizerites and school officials.

It is important that students have every opportunity to focus on their studies while at school. Grumbling stomachs and cold shoulders impeded the education process. McNary Kloset should know no season except the school year. There is no short-term coat or food drive to fill its shelves and racks. Donations are always accepted.

The Keizer Chamber of Commerce office and the Keizer branch of Willamette Valley Bank are drop-off sites for slightly used clothing, new personal care products and food.

McNary Kloset matters because it helps our kids from our community. When a coat or a snack is given, the donor can be confident that someone who lives in the neighborhood or is friends with their own child, is getting something that can turn a world around.     —LAZ