A dinner conversation about someone adopting a teenager sparked an idea. Laura Graham was a freshman when she had an idea for teen charity; 1 Closet, collecting gently used and new clothing for teenage boys and girls in need. As a group, teens are the most often overlooked for donations and foster kids have a $224 a year clothing allowance.
The idea, conceived in December 2010, took shape in February 2011 following a meeting at American Eagle in Brentwood.
Laura partners with more than 15 High Schools in two counties, holding clothing drives along with several schools donating their lost and found garments. Walnut Creek High Schools, including Las Lomas and Northgate, have each held successful clothing drives. In total, Graham estimates some 1000 garments were collected. Ygnacio Valley and Carondelet have also partnered with this well established charity. According to Graham, “Teen giving has never been about profit, it’s about making a difference.”
On average, she has two or more high school drives each month, followed quickly by a sort and distribute, delivering 500-600 needed garments per delivery. Clean garments are carefully folded and packaged for easy distribution. “This is not about parents writing checks. When a teen donates something of their own, it becomes personal.”
The impact has been significant as she has helped clothe over 1200 teenagers! In return, the challenged youth are returning to school. The concept of clothes sharing is popular, however this teenager has clearly taken it a step farther with a ‘why not’ attitude. According to Graham, she routinely has 600 garments ready to go since 1 Closet has become the go-to source for teen clothing.
To date, Graham has collected nearly 10,000 garments, donating to Boys and Girls Clubs and approximately ten different social service agencies who work with teens. In addition, she provides garments to the only LGBTQ agency in our area, Rainbow Community Center. In November, Graham received the Jefferson Award; aired on television and radio. During the last radio airing, a husband and wife happen to hear Graham’s interview. Their 22 year old daughter had taken her own life. They contacted Laura, later donating all of their daughters clothing with the hopes of making a difference to another youth.
Supervisor Karen Michoff, Congressmen John Garamendi and George Miller along with the Contra Costa County Red Cross have recognized Graham for continuing to partner with so many high schools in their area along with the direct impact she has made in her community.
If you would like to donate, please go to 1-Closet.com.