Clark College collects career fashions for job-hunting students

By Scott Hewitt, Columbian social issues & neighborhoods reporter

Published:

 

Bring on the fancy duds. But hold the mile-high shoulder pads, please.

Clark College is opening its closet door for the ninth annual Career Clothing Closet, a free-outfit exchange that aims to help well-dressed students score jobs.

Donations of gently used, professional-level clothing in excellent condition are welcome at the Gaiser Hall Career Center, 1933 Fort Vancouver Way, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Fridays, now through April 16.

That'll be followed by a giveaway event April 18 and 19 in the Penguin Student Union. Each student who attends is entitled to one complete outfit, according to Sarah Weinberger, Clark's service learning and volunteer program manager.

Donations are welcome from everyone, but beneficiaries of the giveaway will be students only, Weinberger said.

"We are looking for professional-caliber donations," she said. Many students are not exactly wealthy, Weinberger said, but they'll want to "look their finest" for what may well be their first post-college job interview -- and, perhaps, the doorway to a new life.

"We have so many students receiving financial aid, so many working part-time, who don't have means to buy expensive new clothes," said Weinberger. "Do you know what a suit costs? Even at Goodwill it adds up."

Last year, she said, a total of 246 outfits went out the door. "I can't tell you how appreciative the students are. This is such a blessing," she said.

Current styles, please

Suits and blazers, button-down shirts, ties and belts, dresses and skirts, hats, purses and the like are all welcome, Weinberger said — but even professional-level clothes that are older than 10 years probably won't do today's job hunters any favors.

"Clothes from the '80s stay on the rack a lot longer" than more modern duds, Weinberger said. The era of "mile-high shoulder pads" is definitely over, she said. There's always a flood of blue jeans and sweatshirts, she added -- but they're also beside the point, which is impressing employers. So ask yourself: Would you wear it to a high-stakes job interview?

Plus sizes are especially welcome. All donations are tax-deductible.

For more information, contact Weinberger at 360-992-2447.

Scott Hewitt: 360-735-4525; http://www.twitter.com/col_nonprofits;scott.hewitt@columbian.com.