UW-Stout class creates and donates clothing to a local non-profit

Published: May. 1, 2021 at 7:31 PM CDT
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - Sarah Eileen Smith is a graduate of UW-Stout, now a part of the university staff. Teaching the garment engineering and production class.

“I took this class in 2011 when I was a student in the program,” Smith said.

Ten years later, she still remembers one specific project that was assigned.

“We tried to make clothing to help one of the local shelters. We usually try to help someone with what we make because otherwise what do we do with it when we’re done?” Smith said,

Now, Smith carries that tradition on with her students by finding ways to make good use of the clothing they create during workshops. This spring, the students have partnered with the Wisconsin Foster Closet.

“We help children entering the foster care system, we give kids a week worth of clothing and give them a welcome bag to help them transition,” said President Celia Bergraff.

Bergraff says the non-profit has received many donations since its start in 2018, but there are still some items that the closet lacks.

“Sweatpants for plus sized teenagers. a lot of people donate jeans and nice pants but teenagers want to be comfortable,” says Bergraff.

That’s where the class stepped in. Creating and donating 18 pairs of gender neutral, plus size sweatpants, adding unique and customized details.

“They told us that a cuff at the bottom would maybe be an issue because some kids have a sensitivity to clothing that fits too tight so we made it with an open bottom and we put the size label in the pocket so there wouldn’t be anything to irritate the person on the waste band,” Smith said.

“For them to think of that was amazing and something we never would have even thought of,” Bergraff says.

Smith is delivering the sweatpants to the closet on Monday and plans to continue finding ways to make her students work live on, beyond the classroom.

For more information on the Wisconsin Foster Closet click here.

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