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The following bus route is delayed today, March 31, until 9 AM:
Rt 59 Belle Sherman/Boynton/IHS


Ithaca High’s Community Closet Provides More Than Essentials: Structures of Support for the IHS Community

As a student at Ithaca High School (IHS), Rachel McDonald knew that some of her friends and peers lacked access to everyday essentials, such as winter gear and toiletries. When she joined IHS as a Library Media Specialist, Rachel realized the need was still there. Staff would send out an email blast for clothing or sneakers in a particular size for a particular student. Moving from reactive to proactive, she established the IHS Community Closet in 2019.

Located just off the library, the Community Closet is set up as a store where clothing, shoes, toiletries, and more are free for students. The Closet is a permanent space at IHS where students can shop for whatever they need, all free and confidential. Kasey Wszolek-Crandall and Nicholas Carbonaro have since joined Rachel, and together, the three staff members have turned the Closet into one of IHS’s most valuable assets.

“Secondhand, thrifted clothes are better for the environment than buying new, especially fast-fashion,” Rachel said. “Special occasion clothes like formal wear for prom, funky clothes for school spirit, and dressier clothes for job interviews are all available, for all students, for free.” She was inspired by free stores and thrift stores around the country, as well as the diverse fashion sense of IHS students.

Video by IHS student, Adina Wilensky

Trader K’s, a mainstay of the Commons, closed after 27 years in business and donated unsold clothing to all ICSD schools, as well as racks and hangers to school clothing closets. The IHS Community Closet was the first, but the Village at Ithaca is establishing one at Boynton, and Dewitt is also planning a clothing closet. Although it primarily serves IHS, the Closet has also provided clothes to students’ siblings and parents, a large donation to Boynton Middle School, and scrubs and shop clothes to regional BOCES programs.

The future of the Community Closet is bright - the team hopes to expand the operation to include hair care and opportunities to practice hair styling. Nicholas, who is also a professional stylist, calls the Closet “the perfect lab for creativity” and sees its potential as “a safe space to practice hair styling techniques, makeup application, and skin care.” There are also plans to build a grocery within the space, similar to Enfield Elementary’s welcome center grocery, to increase staff and student access to healthy foods, recipes, and ingredients.


The IHS Community Closet accepts clothing in like new/excellent condition with no rips, stains, or tears. Base layers (socks and underwear) and toiletries must be new and unopened. Winter gear such as hats, gloves, and coats are always in high demand, as is deodorant. Check out the current wish list for more specifics. Please reach out to to arrange a donation drop-off.

The Community Closet has been generously supported by the school community, students, families, and staff. Special thanks to the following:

  • Mr. Pemberton’s class, which launders donated items so that each piece is clean and ready to wear right off the rack
  • The IHS PTA, which has provided financial support for purchasing toiletries 
  • The IHS Key Club, who held a winter gear drive, then organized and sorted donated items
  • The IHS Senior Class of 2022, who filmed an IHS Community Closet promotional video and held a formal wear drive
  • The IHS Fashion Club, which regularly curates outfits and sorts donations
  • The IHS Medical office, which recently donated 400 pairs of brand-new socks

Click on the thumbnails below to see inside the IHS Community Closet!
IHS Community Closet
IHS Community Closet
IHS Community Closet
IHS Community Closet
IHS Community Closet
IHS Community Closet