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Second-hand clothes fill kids holiday wishes
Lathrop School fifth grader Alondra Rodrigues looks for clothes for her younger siblings during Thursday’s Lathrop School Clothes Give-Away. - photo by HIME ROMERO
LATHROP – Not every child filling out a Christmas list this year is asking for the latest electronics and the most popular toys.

Rather than playing after school with their friends, dozens of Lathrop Elementary students filtered through the school’s cafeteria in search of quality second-hand clothing items that the students collected from the community back in October.

When it came time to visit Santa to get their respective presents, students like Marilyn Sosa were just happy to be going home with something the week before Christmas actually arrives.

“I think that it’s really nice that we have people that do these things for people. I’m very grateful for that,” said Sosa – noting that she only asked for clothes this Christmas season. “We don’t get many presents at Christmas, so to me this time of year is about getting closer with your family.”

According to Vania Martinez of the Lathrop Elementary Parent Teacher Club, the majority of the wish-lists submitted by students this year asked for things like shoes, blankets and clothes that are becoming harder to come by for less-fortunate students gearing up for the coldest time of the year.
But when several requests for space-heaters started rolling in, Martinez knew that the need was much greater at Lathrop Elementary than even she imagined.

“We have students that are asking for the bare necessities. These aren’t requests for toys or for games or anything like that,” she said. “So when you see a child’s face light up when they get handed a present, it really makes all of the work to put this whole thing together completely worth it.”

Inside of the cafeteria, tables were set up with clothes of various sizes, colors and designs that were free for the younger students who needed them – a group that paced around the room with a plastic bag used to stock up on items they felt they could use.

According to Principal David Silveria, all of the clothes came from the “Stuff a Police Car” event that the school held back in October. All of the clothes handed out Thursday, he said, were laundered free of charge courtesy of a local dry cleaning establishment.

“We had such a great turnout from that event that we actually gave some of those items away to Goodwill,” Silveria said. “The community really came through for us on that, and we’re seeing the benefits of it today.”

Thursday also provided eighth-grade student Mauricio Torres the opportunity to lend a helping hand to not only his school, but his younger schoolmates as well.
“I’m here today to help the younger kids find what they need,” Torres said. “I think that it’s important to give back to the community, and it’s even more important during this time of year.

“There are a lot of students that don’t have access to new clothes on a regular basis, and it’s good to be able to help out and see how happy they are when they find something that they like. That’s what this is all about.”