LOS LUNAS, N.M. (KRQE) – There’s a thrift store inside a New Mexico high school with clothes, shoes, winter coats and more, all free of charge. It was started by a math teacher who says the store is now thriving after her students stepped in to help.
Within the first few weeks of school, Celestria Carrasco says she immediately saw some students in her class at Valencia High School were struggling. That’s when she decided to start setting aside clothes to bring in, eventually sparking a ‘thrift store’ in an empty classroom.
“I didn’t know it was going to turn into a thrift store. It was just kind of a need for clothes. Any school I’ve worked at, I’ve always noticed there’s a need, if it’s a school that’s in the higher end of the community or a school that’s in the lowest end,” said Carrasco, an algebra teacher. “It’s surprising to me how much the older kids are forgotten. I feel like there’s a lot of items for little kids, but high school kids get forgotten about and it’s a hard time. High school is hard, and when kids are rotating the same pair of pants all week with a couple of different shirts, it wears on their confidence and wanting to come to school.”
Carrasco put out a plea for help on Facebook, asking if anyone had extra teen-sized clothing they could part with. She says the response was overwhelming.
“I put it out there on Facebook and the community has been great, wanting to donate, and this is where we’re at,” said Carrasco. “Our community is huge. It wouldn’t have been able to be started without them.”
The thrift store is run during school hours and is mostly student-driven. The high school’s welding class is putting together racks and the special education department is helping students stay occupied and learn basic skills like washing and folding.
“We’ve got our welding kids, they’re learning, they’re welding all these things together and seeing where they need to modify and how they can make it sturdier, trying to be student-driven,” said Carrasco. “We have Ms. Hinder’s class, as you can see, and they wash and sort, they fold, they’re hanging it and getting everything on the racks, so really, I just bring in clothes. Everybody else helps and they take it from there. These kids love doing it and I couldn’t do it without them.”
Carrasco says word is quickly spreading around the school. While some students have already gone in and picked out some new clothes or shoes, others are donating whatever they can.
“We have a lot of students who heard about it and they’re bringing in the stuff that doesn’t fit them,” said Carrasco. “If you have it, bring it in, help someone else out and if you need something, it’s okay, go try it on, see if you like it. The kids who have used it have been great. They come out of the fitting room and they come out smiling and it works out. It’s been a big work in progress.”
Right now, they’re not accepting monetary donations, but may consider it down the road once the thrift store is complete. Those interested in helping out can bring in teen-sized clothing, as well as any hygiene products or non-perishable foods for students in need.
Donations are accepted at Valencia High School and Bosque Farms Elementary, for those in-town who necessarily can’t make it out to the high school. Carrasco is also working on getting an area business to be a drop-off location for donations. Anyone interested can call the school or email Carrasco at firstname.lastname@example.org.