Youth Forward Scholarship Summer 2017 – New Clothes, New Smiles

Name: Sophia Herrera
From: La Palma, California
Grade: 10th
School: John F. Kennedy High School
Votes: 0

2002, only two years after I was born, my small house burned down;
everything in sight was reduced to ashes. With literally the clothes
on our backs, my parents and I were forced to live in another city
for months, struggling to rebuild after the tragedy. However, our
family and friends managed to collect supplies for us, including new
garments. Their simple action in giving their clothes to us resonated
within me for years.

I started my junior year, my high school seeked students to help
found a program called the Kennedy Kloset, dedicated to providing
low-income students with new clothes. I felt a calling to the
program, because I wanted to reciprocate the kindness given to my
parents to other families that may be struggling in the community. I,
along with three of my friends, rose up to the challenge. We were
responsible for collecting, cleaning, and organizing the Kloset’s
donations as well as figuring out a way to reach out to the public.
After weeks of discussion, we finally formed the Open Kloset, an
event in which our clothing is displayed in the quad of school, and
students may take up to three free items. The event would be an
opportunity to raise awareness and allow students who need the
clothes to blend in with those who are browsing for fun, securing
their privacy.

executing our plans for the Open Kloset event, there were many
challenges that I had encountered. Talks between our advisor and our
group lagged, and the stress of AP and IB tests caused our group to
struggle in managing both the Kloset and test preparations. Despite
these hurdles, we persisted with our project and reached success.

day of the Open Kloset had finally come, and as I stepped into the
main quad during lunch, I saw the excitement surrounding our event.
Dozens of students were browsing through the racks, exploring what
clothes our Kloset had to offer, and many faculty members and teens
asked us how to donate to our program. Because the event was our
first, it was a chaotic, but I was proud that it was a success, even
with a time restraint. The pivotal moment of the Open Kloset came to
me when one of the students pulled me aside. With a gentle smile, she
thanked me dearly for putting on the event and cheerfully held up her
clothes, explaining that she had been wanting to get her little
sister trendy clothes but did not have enough money for it. Her words
brightened my heart, and I promised that we will reach out to her in
the future if she ever needed anything. Seeing the girl reminded me
that I was once in a similar situation as her when my house had
tragically burned down. Perhaps ten years from now, her little sister
will hear about the Kennedy Kloset, and step up to the challenge to
repay the kindness she had received years ago.

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