The Wellesley Student Aid Society (WSAS), a nonprofit organization that has long provided students with temporary loans and other financial services, will reopen its clothes closet during the first week of February when students return for the spring semester. Students who need winter clothing and other items can visit WSAS in Schneider 117 and have the closet opened for their perusal. The closet is in the Link, the first-floor path connecting Billings Hall to the Schneider Center. In the 1980s, the room had been a candy shop; it has since then been used for storage. Gently used clothing can be donated to WSAS in Schneider 117. Students, alumnae and other donors can receive tax deductions for their donations to the nonprofit by filling out the Clothing Receipt form on the WSAS Clothes Closet section of the WSAS website. Any Wellesley student can retrieve clothing for free but should keep in mind that the clothes are not prewashed.
Gently used clothing can be donated to WSAS in Schneider 117. Students, alumnae and other donors can receive tax deductions for their donations to the nonprofit by filling out the Clothing Receipt form on the WSAS Clothes Closet section of the WSAS website. Any Wellesley student can retrieve clothing for free but should keep in mind that the clothes are not prewashed.
When explaining the function of WSAS, an organization not affiliated with Wellesley College that will be celebrating its centennial in spring 2016, WSAS Executive Director Catherine Kefalas ’89 referred to a common experience Wellesley students have with the organization.
“We’re the Amazon gift card people,” Kefalas said, referring to the $100 gift card all Wellesley upperclassmen on financial aid receive at the beginning of the year. Firstyears on financial aid receive a $100 Barnes & Noble gift card. WSAS also gives Wellesley students tuition loans in their financial aid packages and short-term loans ranging from $20 to over $300. The closet itself has been around since at least the 1920s. WSAS was incorporated as a nonprofit organization separate from Wellesley College in April 1916.
This is the first experience current first-years and sophomores will have with the clothes closet, which was closed in June 2014 as Schneider underwent renovations. The closet had previously been in Green Hall, where some administrative offices had been. When the Lulu Chow Wang Center was built, it replaced the Schneider Center as the hub of student campus activity. Schneider used to sell bus tokens and housed a popular student dining center; it now houses WSAS, the Office of the Registrar, the Class Deans’ offices and Student Financial Services.
Kefalas said that finding an accessible and large enough location for the clothes closet in the Schneider-Billings complex was difficult.
“When we moved from Green Hall to here, space became a bit more complicated,” Kefalas said, recounting how the Schneider basement room allocated by the college proved to be too inaccessible for Wellesley students.
This September, WSAS and the college agreed to have the clothes closet in the Link and renovated the location. WSAS has since been busy processing and organizing donations from Wellesley students and alumnae and purchases from stores like T.J. Maxx.
WSAS is collaborating with a number of organizations through the clothes closet. The nonprofit is working with the Sustainability Office to figure out a way for clothes to be donated in a steady stream throughout the school year rather than the large piles that accrue as students leave for the summer. WSAS is reaching out to alumnae for donations through Wellesley College’s various alumnae clubs. Clothes that have sat in the closet unclaimed for a long period are donated to Morgan Memorial, Rosie’s Place and Goodwill. Unclaimed clothing is also donated to churches, which often send the clothing abroad. WSAS makes no money from these transactions.
Among the items currently in the closet are suit sets, winter clothing, shoes and bags. Much of the clothing is in very good condition; brands like Banana Republic, J. Crew and Loft make a regular appearance. The organization expects to receive more robes as donations and orders come in. Students can also find suits for interviews at the Center for Work and Service, which is located in Green Hall 442; while these are free to rent, they must be dry cleaned before they are returned.
One of the hottest items WSAS has will be its stock of more than 50 graduation robes, which WSAS is loaning for free.
“Some students don’t attach a lot of nostalgia to them,” Kefalas explained, saying that many students didn’t want to pay the high price associated with them. Graduation robes are the only item that must be returned.