As many look ahead to lazy mornings and summer schedules Oakdale High School’s Dana McLain has other thoughts on her mind.
The OHS Counseling Office Secretary is preoccupied these days with mortar boards and gowns. Most specifically, graduation gowns, as she prepares Veronica’s Care Closet for graduates in need of proper attire.
The Care Closet, which was first started during the 2001-2002 school year by counselor John Arsenio, was renamed Veronica’s Closet with the passing of educator Veronica Patron in 2010.
The closet serves students (and their families) who may have need in the way of school supplies, food, clothing and hygiene items.
According to McLain, financial donations are the most helpful. They offer the staff the ability to purchase gift cards from local markets and stores or shop for specific closet needs or even mortar boards.
“I had one family … she had four kids graduate from here,” McLain said of past gown donations. “So she had them from high school and the junior high.”
McClain said she is able to order the caps and get tassels at cost, so that helps the cash donations go farther.
She also indicated that the needs of the closet fluctuate by time of the year. In summer her focus shifts to backpacks, PE clothes and supplies, while in the fall she looks more for coats and warm clothing. The need for food and hygiene items, however, stays constant.
“It’s always an open door,” McLain said. “We take care of their needs, especially their school supplies.”
Privacy and anonymity are equally important to McLain and the OHS staff as they provide for the students.
“Students will either come in and approach me or their parents may call,” she said. “It’s for the family, not just for the student.”
School Registrar, Denise Russell echoed the importance and impact of the financial donations.
“The money donations have helped us so much,” Russell said, sharing that last fall they were able to assist 29 families with turkey dinners at Thanksgiving.
“That’s how it got built up,” McLain offered, “through the public donating. There are anonymous donations through PG&E employees, last year’s senior class donated as part of their gift, people are just giving.”
Donations of clothing items, food, or graduation gowns may be brought to the OHS counseling office. Check donations may be made to OHS, with Veronica’s Closet placed on the memo line.
For additional information or specific questions call Dana McLain at 848-7111 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org