AMSTERDAM — Celebrating his 17th birthday in style, R.J. Shaw topped off his leisurewear with one of the blazers donated by Bluffworks to the Greater Amsterdam School District.
“I look pretty good, I’m not going to lie,” Shaw said Thursday.
“This is very fun,” agreed Mianna Magliocca, family advocate for the district, of the mix-and-match look.
Shaw and fellow student Nicholas Santiago perused the menswear among the many items in the donation closet at Amsterdam High School.
Kids can take items as needed from the donation closets found at each of the district’s six school buildings. Contributions include clothing, hygiene products, school supplies, non-perishable food and more.
“We always wanted to have the donation closets in schools, but it’s hard to find a spot,” Magliocca said. “Every corner of a school is filled with something.”
The school district made the space after receiving a massive donation of clothing from digital apparel company Bluffworks last year.
“This room didn’t exist before that,” Magliocca said.
Bluffworks specializes in versatile travel wear that is comfortable on the go and can be dressed up or down for any occasion. The data center and physical headquarters for the online-only retailer is based on Wallins Corners Road in Amsterdam.
The company in the past had sought out local schools or organizations to accept donations of clothing with minor defects that can’t be sold, but are in good condition and ready to be worn.
“It’s not bad clothing, but it’s maybe missing a button or has a snag,” said Monica Turley, customer service and distribution manager for Bluffworks.
Limited space or use for the garments by area agencies led Turley to simply drop the goods off at local thrift stores until the pandemic halted the acceptance of donations.
When the like-new apparel began piling up, Turley tried again to find a good home for the clothing and was connected with the school district by local volunteer Christopher Carpenter.
Bluffworks wound up donating roughly 17 boxes full of clothing with a retail value of around $65,000 to the school district and shared with local nonprofits.
The donation closet at the high school features a rack full of mostly menswear with a variety of basics, button down shirts and blazers. Students take garments for everyday use or special occasions, such as job interviews or school dances.
“You do feel ostracized as a kid if you’re not in the nicest, newest clothes,” Magliocca said.
The look of the clothing impressed Santiago and Shaw. The students were smiling widely as they headed back to class with new blazers over the T-shirts they wore to school.
“I’m ready for business,” Santiago said.
“Look the part, you’ll get the part,” Magliocca said. “It made their whole day.”
There are still boxes of Bluffworks clothing that Magliocca puts out as space becomes available. She’s also holding some formal items aside for prom season.
The donation from Bluffworks and establishment of the closet at the high school served as the catalyst for the collection from community members and local businesses of other needed items that students can discreetly take by visiting the donation closet now at each school building.
“It’s definitely sparked everybody else donating,” Magliocca added. “Once you talk about one person donating, somebody else wants to donate and it just keeps going, it’s very nice.”
Tonya Grieme, customer service associate for Bluffworks, and Turley both have children in the district and were overjoyed to see how their effort has helped support local kids. The pair are already mulling other ways to aid district students.
“It’s good to see things like this being created at the school level, because all the kids have to go to school, not everybody can get everywhere else,” Turley said. “I would love to know what else kids ask for.”
Reach Ashley Onyon at [email protected] or @AshleyOnyon on Twitter.
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