Button downs, black leather jackets, summer jumpers, and stacks of sweatshirts were neatly folded, stacked organized into sections in a meeting room in the LGBT Center, ready for the Center’s inaugural Clothing Swap & Drop. The event, kicked off the new Clothing Closet, which will be a permanent community resource.
Housed in the LGBT Center’s lounge area, the closet will be open to the public starting on Nov. 28 on Mondays and Fridays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and 6 to 9 p.m. on Tuesdays. Students, faculty, staff, and community members are welcome to drop off used, freshly laundered clothing or peruse the racks to take a new outfit home.
The Clothing Closet is presented in partnership with Wellness at Penn, which commissioned canvas bags and notecards reminding closet patrons to “wash before you drop and after you swap,” all designed by Wellness’ student interns.
Julia Mills Burton, a nurse practitioner and gynecology section chief at Wellness at Penn’s Student Health and Counseling division, serves as the chair of Wellness’ LGBTQ working group. Students told her they needed more access to affordable clothing, Burton says. “Sometimes there are financial hardships, particularly as people are going through gender transition,” she says. This program will “provide opportunities for them to have access to clothing that might be gender affirming for them.”
Jake Muscato, the Center’s new associate director, and Wes Alvers, a master’s student at the School of Social Policy & Practice and the Center’s social work intern, worked together to set up the space.