Junior Auxiliary of Houma is set to host a uniform drive from now until July 31 to collect public school uniforms to give to local families in need.
The uniform drive is seeking gently-used shirts, pants, shorts and skirts, as well as other items that are part of a uniform, like belts. Socks can be donated but must be brand-new.
Members of JA will wash the uniforms and deliver them to the Terrebonne Parish School District for distribution.
JA Public Relations Chair Katie Portier said the idea for the uniform drive arose when members began hearing that there were families in the community who could not afford school uniforms due to the effects of COVID-19, including unemployment and the downturn in the oil and gas industry.
Portier said that TPSD Assistant Superintendent Bubba Orgeron mentioned to her one day that some parents in the school district had requested help with uniforms. Portier decided to see if JA’s Helping Hands service, which allows for the organization to aid local groups and individuals on a case-by-case basis, could offer assistance by hosting a uniform drive.
“We’re all facing just such a unique school year that’s coming up, and uniforms shouldn’t be a barrier for a child’s education,” Portier said. “For some families, it’s only one child, but when you start adding two, three, four children that you have to buy uniforms for, that gets very expensive very quickly, so if you’re without a job or your hours got cut, that can be very hard to do.”
Portier said that it is important for local people to band together during such unprecedented times, and she encourages anyone with old uniforms to consider donating them to the drive.
With her experience working in education, Portier knows firsthand how valuable a uniform can be to a child attending school.
“We can help students and families that are just in [this] economic situation right now and help them so that their kids can go to school feeling confident,” Portier said. “When a child feels confident in school they can do so much better and just have the confidence to do well…A clean shirt can do a lot for a child, and I just think that’s important.”
Distribution of uniforms is set to begin on Aug. 4. Those wishing to pick up uniforms should contact Kwanzaa Johnson at TPSD by calling 985-879-6400 ext. 264.
Anyone wishing to donate gently-used public school uniforms can drop them off at the following collection locations:
Donors can also contact JA through JAofHouma@gmail.com.