Column: Verbena dressing to impress

Published 10:56 am Monday, July 18, 2022

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By Elisabeth Altamirano-Smith | Community Columnist

Each year, Verbena High School stocks a clothing boutique accessible to students throughout the year, and this year, the school is asking for the community’s help.

The school boutique is requesting donations of clothing and shoes of all sizes that are clean and in good condition. They are also accepting donations of school supplies, backpacks and toiletries (shampoo, conditioner, soap, toothpaste, toothbrushes). Students also enjoy hats, purses, jewelry, hair styling accessories and makeup.

“The boutique is used in many different ways,” said Verbena guidance counselor, Kim Hicks Benson. “When a student has an accident at school, if they fall in the mud at PE, spills something on their clothes or any other similar event they are able to get a change of clothes from the boutique and go back to class. At least once a month, we open the boutique to all of our students and allow each student to pick at least two items to take home with them. We have also used the boutique when a family has gone through an event, such as a fire, or if we know of a student that is just in need of items.”

Benson said as soon as she started working at Verbena High in 2018 she saw a need and wanted to initially open a clothing closet for seniors that needed clothes for future interviews. However, her vision expanded in order to include all of the students when she shared her dream with the staff and a donor that wishes to remain anonymous.

“We would not have been able to start without the donor’s help,” said Benson. “She helped us create the space for the boutique and decorate. The assistant principal at the time, made a nearby bathroom accessible, so students can try on clothes.”

The boutique has been established for three years and Benson said its success is credited to all of Verbena High staff and administration.

“This boutique has been such a blessing for our school,” said Benson.  “It has aided students who would not normally have things that they need for school. Someone donated some hair dryers and curling irons one time, and I was skeptical that they were something that the boutique should stock, but there were students that needed them. We are looking for different sizes of clothing and accessories. Hoodies are frequently the first thing to be claimed by the teenagers.”

This year, stocking and working the boutique will be managed by Family and Consumer Science Students of Verbena.

Additionally, Benson is a winning recipient this year of the CBS 42 “One Class at a Time” Grant and the Alabama Power Foundation Classroom Grant, which she is using to create a space at the school where students may work on college applications and find resources.

Donations may be dropped off at Verbena High Monday-Thursday from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Once school starts, the school office will be open to receive donations, Monday-Friday from 8 a.m.-3 p.m.

Monetary donations may be made out to Verbena High School and noting “Boutique” on the memo line.