Dressing for SuccessMar 01, 2023 ● By Mallory Arnold
by Mallory Arnold
For some, shopping for school clothing and gear can be an exciting experience: picking out pencil bags, backpacks, a new jacket, shoes and everything in between.
Due to increased inflation in recent years, however, school supply and clothing shopping can also be stressful.
A 2022 survey of more than 2,100 U.S. parents, conducted by business intelligence company Morning Consult, revealed that only 36 percent of those surveyed could afford back-to-school shopping for their children — down from 52 percent the previous year. The survey also found that 37 percent of parents were stressed about affording school clothes for their kids.
Frisco Threads Student Clothes Closet (friscopta.org/frisco-threads) is a program developed by the Frisco ISD Council of PTAs. It works to alleviate some of the pressure on students and their parents by ensuring that students have access to appropriate clothing throughout the school year — from winter coats and pants to shirts, socks and more.
The program is for families of Frisco ISD students in Pre-K through high school who have a need, which may arise for a variety of reasons including financial constraints, changes within in the family or a disaster such as fire or flooding.
Families and students are connected to the program through district staffers including school counselors, support specialists and the community relations team. Once connected, they can register and shop for clothing.
Each year students may receive hoodies, a new pair of athletic shoes, a winter coat and other seasonal outerwear and pajamas. In addition, each semester they may receive a selection of tops, bottoms, dresswear, new socks and underwear.
Located at the Ackers Special Programs Center, at 7159 Hickory St., Frisco Threads is open two days per week. On Mondays, the organization accepts clothing and other donations. Its team spends the day sorting through clothes and preparing the space for shoppers.
On Thursdays, parents and students are welcome to visit and select clothing items. (Students are given an excused absence from school to visit the clothes closet.)
Run entirely on support from the PTA, schools, community donors and volunteers, Frisco Threads has served students and their families for two years and services about 30-40 students weekly.
Filling a need
Tara Childers, Frisco Threads’ chairperson, says the closet is filling a need in Frisco, much like other programs that assist students.
“We saw in the community that there were other organizations that helped fill” certain other needs, such as providing food for lunches during summer break as well as hygiene items, “but not one that completely filled clothing needs,” Childers says. “We also saw other school districts run similar programs and were inspired to provide the service to our students.”
Terri Palmer, president of the Frisco ISD Council of PTAs, says the need for a program like Frisco Threads exists in our city, although people may not be aware that is the case.
“I just don’t think it’s communicated well that there’s a need in Frisco,” Palmer says. “I think for the most part, people assume we’re an affluent community – and we are, for the majority – but there are families that are struggling, and we want to make sure we can help them.”
Countless studies have been conducted on the correlation between adolescent self-esteem and academic efficacy. Some research has shown that poor confidence and insecurities can negatively impact the amount of educational success experienced by students.
“It can definitely affect a student if they’re worried about wearing the same shirt three times a week or that they have holes in their shoes,” Childers says. “Frisco Threads makes it so they don’t have to worry about that. It takes that worry off their plates so they can focus on school and peer relationships.”
Dr. Stephanie Cook, Frisco ISD’s managing director of guidance and counseling, says, “When students’ basic needs are supported, they are more likely to arrive on campus ready to learn. We are beyond fortunate to have so many resources available to our students, including Frisco Threads.”
Childers says, “If we can provide that relief to students worried about their confidence and what they look like, then they can focus on the areas of their life that are important.”
Clothing items at Frisco Threads are screened thoroughly before being placed on the shopping floor because, Childers explains, “We want to make sure we’re providing clothes that are in good condition and that are in the current style. … We want students to feel comfortable and confident, which impacts their ability to focus on learning and developing peer relationships.”
Frisco Threads relies on the community for clothing and monetary donations as well as volunteers to be able to provide its services. “We need help with all of it,” Palmer says.
Current needs include (but are not limited to) new or gently used hoodies for men and juniors, men’s athletic pants, and pajamas for women, boys and girls. New items that are needed include athletic shoes, socks and undergarments.
Palmer wants the community to know that when monetary donations are made, 100 percent of the funds received go toward the purchase of new clothing items including socks, underwear and athletic shoes.
“The partnership with the district allows us to have a space to operate in and the ability to communicate with families,” she says. “And we’re very appreciative of the support from the community.”
Mallory Arnold is a freelance writer who enjoys long walks, crime podcasts and hanging out with her cat, Ariana Grande.