The goal for Huskie Closet is to make all students feel comfortable and confident in their clothing.
DeKALB — A new clothing swap has been open for NIU students since the fall of 2021. The Huskie Closet is open from 11 am to 1 pm Wednesdays and from 4:30 to 6 pm Thursdays in Chick Evans Field House Room 102.
The Huskie Closet was an idea created by junior Clayton Schopfer, a political science and Spanish major, who had run previous clothing drives for students. SGA Deputy Speaker Jacob Burg joined Schopfer in presenting the idea to the directors of the Center for Nonprofit and NGO Studies.
Director and associate professor Alicia Schatteman and assistant director Julie Ann O’Connell of the Center for Nonprofit and NGO Studies oversee the program with two interns and volunteers.
“We soft-opened in the fall of 2021, then we did our big full opening more this spring semester of 2022,” O’Connell said.
The goal of the Huskie closet not only focuses on the swapping of free clothes but also provides access to clothing to all students and citizens of DeKalb. They also seek to show how reusable clothes can be recycled and be sustainable to the environment.
“There are lots of financial needs of students,” Schatteman said. “So if we can take the burden off of clothing, they can dedicate those funds somewhere else (such as) transportation, books, rent. The environment was another factor. Instead of things going into the trash, you can bring things you no longer want and then pick up new clothing in a recycling idea.”
The Huskie Closet provides a great opportunity for students looking to gain experience in the field of nonprofit and NGO studies. Schatteman and O’Connell took on two interns, Emily Fehl, a junior nonprofit and NGO major, and Jacob Merrill, a junior economics major.
Fehl is the merchandising intern, taking on the role of sorting donations, delegating tasks to volunteers and creating an easy and fun experience for the volunteers and visitors.
“I want all students to feel comfortable and confident coming into the closet,” Fehl said. “Knowing how shopping can be an intimidating experience for many people, it is important to me that the closet is a safe space for anyone. Regardless of what they are shopping for and what their level of need is, our staff is here to assist them in finding what they are looking for and sending our visitors off satisfied with their experience.”
Students and DeKalb residents can come into the closet to donate clothes and take something home as well. If students or community members don’t have anything to donate but still want to participate, they can volunteer through their sign-up genius.
O’Connell said that for the future, they’re looking to expand by working with more organizations and incorporating more than just clothes within the closet.
“In the fall, we did a program with the Gender and Sexuality Resource center and so, I see us moving forward doing more programs with different organizations,” O’Connell said. “Some of our goals is to have a fashion show with another organization or a workshop on how to dress for career success and events like that. That’s what we’re looking forward to doing.”
For further questions about the Huskie Closet, reach out to HuskieCloset@niu.edu.