South Omaha Closet is expanding to better serve the community

OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) – Omaha South High is cementing its role as a community partner with the expansion of its South Omaha Closet.

The main goal of the closet is to feed and support families in South Omaha by providing them with basic household items such as clothing, toiletries, linens and more for free.

The math teacher Hanna Holguin started the project in January 2020. She and a group of students called “Packers Pay it Forward” collected donated clothing and hygiene products and stored them in a cupboard in the back of their classroom.

After Holguin realized that the community’s need was greater than clothing and more than just students, he decided it was time to expand the project.

“One alumni got wind of what we were doing and felt that there were some restrictions on being only available in the classroom – we could only help current students, not necessarily the whole family – and we know if maybe one family member has problems, the whole family may have problems, ”said Holguin.

After months of work and with a lot of help from community members, the South Omaha Closet is now in a large storage bin in the school car park.

Inside are shelves, shelves, and tubs filled with clothes of all sizes, shoes, hygiene products, bedding, baby items, and more.

“I am really proud of what has resulted,” said Holguin. “This way we can show that we care about one another. Yes, we are a school, but we are part of the community. “

According to Holguin, the South Omaha Closet is a resource that is desperately needed as families affected by COVID-19 try to make ends meet.

“When people lose their jobs, are sick and are at home, they can’t do what they normally do,” she said. “So not only do we have sadness and pain in the homes of our congregation, but they are also struggling. This is one possibility that we can only care – it may be small, but it shows that we are still together.”

Students Michelle Montenegro and Kimberly Cruz helped move the cabinet from the classroom to the new container. During the winter break and spring break, the girls spent hours organizing and sorting items in the new and improved closet.

They say it is personal to give back to their community in this way.

“It was things like that that would help my family grow up. As I got older, I knew I wanted to help the community,” said Montenegro.

Cruz said her family received help just as she was growing up.

“I’ve known since I was a kid that I was struggling to find clothes and food,” she said. “I just wanted to help other families because I know it made me feel so much better.”

Families can now visit the closet and find out what they need to support themselves and their families.

“Families can come and express their needs, and we will have a conversation, ‘How can we help you? ‘and then we’ll pull out whatever fits that need and then they can take what they need and take it home with them. No questions, no costs at all, ”said Holguin.

Michelle Montenegro and Kimberly Cruz are excited to support their South Omaha community.

“I just like to see the faces of people’s families or students when we give them free stuff. That makes my day,” said Cruz.

“I just want people to know that there are resources and when there are none and you see people fighting, create those resources for them because you want someone to help you,” said Montenegro.

The South Omaha Closet is open on Thursdays and Sundays through the end of May:

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