Demand high for free dress code clothing at Cape Junior High

Wednesday, August 1, 2012
Families look through what is left of the clothing available during a Cape Girardeau School District dress code distribution event Tuesday, July 31 at Cape Girardeau Junior High School. The district held a clothing drive from July 23rd to July 27th to provide clothes that meet the district's new dress code to families that need them. (Adam Vogler)

A line of parents and students hoping to take home free clothing items that will comply with the Cape Girardeau School District's new dress code wound out from the gym through the lobby and into the parking lot of Cape Girardeau Central Junior High School on Tuesday morning.

The district held a clothing drive last week and is in the second day of a distribution event today.

By 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, district staff had already distributed the majority of the 650 tops and 400 bottoms brought in for the event by the initial drive. Parents or other family members seeking items were allowed to select a maximum of three tops and two bottoms per student.

With supplies dwindling quickly, the district decided it would continue to ask for donations Tuesday and had staff use funds donated by the United Way to bring in more items bought new at a discount from local retailers, said Deena Ring, the district's special services coordinator.

The new dress code requirements take effect on the first day of classes, Aug. 16.

Some parents, like Vicky Dowdy, didn't find any items during Tuesday's distribution because the sizes her fourth- and fifth-grade daughters needed were gone by the time she arrived. Dowdy said she was starting from scratch looking for items to fit the dress code because she has homeschooled her daughters up until this year.

"I was hoping today was going to help, but it didn't really turn out that way," she said.

Dowdy has been trying to shop sales at major retailers and buy secondhand items to stock up her daughters' school wardrobes. On top of that she's having to buy supplies for the first time that match the lists distributed by their schools, so all new clothes for them is an extra burden, she said.

"It's definitely an adjustment for all of us. Thank God for Goodwill," she said.

Others, like Shawon Egson, who came to the distribution for items for her three daughters, ages 14, 12 and 10, said she is spending less on clothes for school this year and for her, stricter requirements equal less hassle.

"I don't have to worry about buying this and buying that and trying to come up with getting them everything they want that is always different," she said.

Egson said she was able to find jeans for all three girls and that she was glad the district was holding the event.

"I think it is nice what they are doing," she said. "This is going to help a lot of people."

Ring said the event so far had been a "learning experience" for the district and work is continuing to help families who may not have received the items they need. Parent liaisons and social workers took the names and contact information of families who are still seeking assistance, and Ring said staff would be attempting to distribute additional items to those families before school starts.

Although many items went out the door quickly Tuesday, donations were still being collected throughout the day to allow the event to be held this afternoon as originally scheduled. Organizers weren't initially sure if the event could run two days based on the size of Tuesday morning's crowd. Ring said the district will continue to accept donations of new or gently used items that adhere to the code's requirements at the district's central offices at 301 N. Clark Ave. in Cape Girardeau.

The distribution event is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. today at the junior high field house.

Ring said 220 families received items or were placed on a "needs list" by district staff during Tuesday's distribution. Staff did not review families' income levels to determine need but did check parent identification to be sure all students receiving items would be attending Cape Girardeau public schools, Ring said. Other than those measures, families were on the honor system, Ring said.

Any clothing leftover today will go to families on the needs list or be divided among the district's buildings to stock clothes closets.

A full description of the new dress code's requirements is online at http://www.capetigers.com.

High school students will be expected to wear clothes that adhere to the code during orientation next week so that school staff can advise students and parents of any issues.

The orientation schedule for next week is:

* Seniors, 8 to 11 a.m. Monday

* Juniors, 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. Monday

* Sophomores, 8 to 11 a.m. Tuesday

* Freshmen, 8 a.m. Aug. 8

For more on orientation, call the high school at 335-8228.

eragan@semissourian.com

388-3627

Pertinent address:

301 Clark Ave., Cape Girardeau, MO

205 Caruthers Ave., Cape Girardeau, MO

Map of pertinent addresses

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