Posted 11:35 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2022

UW-La Crosse's Campus Thread clothing closet is partnering with the La Crosse Fire Department to support families in need. The closet, which began in 2019 in the Common Ground Campus Ministry, is now located in the Center for Transformative Justice in Centennial Hall.

UWL's Campus Thread supports families on, off campus

A UW-La Crosse resource providing free clothing to students is extending its reach to the community.

Since opening in 2019, Campus Thread has supplied hundreds of students with everything from jeans and T-shirts to professional attire such as suits and dresses.

With an excess of clothing this summer, Campus Thread Program Coordinator Veronica Pettigrew brainstormed ways to put that surplus to use.

“Our students were concerned that it would be donated to an organization that would resell the clothing,” Pettigrew explains. “I called some of the charitable organizations we work with, and their inventory was also full. That’s when I thought of the fire department.”

Pettigrew called the La Crosse Fire Department and worked out an agreement: When families lose their belongings in a fire, the department will direct them to Campus Thread, among other resources, to help get them back on their feet.

“Now, they let us know when a family gets burned out and what size clothing they need,” Pettigrew says. “We’ll bag the items and have them ready for the family when they come in.”

In mid-August, Campus Thread served its first displaced family.

The mother-daughter pair had lost everything in a house fire. The daughter needed clothing with the first day of school approaching.

“They came in, and I told them they could look around and pick out anything they wanted,” Pettigrew says. “When they were done, they wanted to know how much they owed. I kept saying they didn’t owe anything, that it was free.

“They were so appreciative of this initiative with the fire department, and it felt really good being able to help give them the clothing they needed.”

While Pettigrew hopes to assist as many families as possible, supporting students will continue to be Campus Threads’ primary mission.

Each year, Pettigrew says, Campus Thread has collected more donations and served more students than the year before.

The closet has also partnered with student organizations to promote sustainability and host pop-up events designed to reach more students.

Campus Thread, located in the Center for Transformative Justice (1120 Centennial Hall), opens for the fall semester Thursday, Sept. 8. A second location offering professional clothing is located in the Career Services Office (1209 Centennial Hall).

Campus Thread is currently accepting gently used casual clothing, professional clothing and UWL apparel. Donations should be delivered to the Center for Transformative Justice.

Visit the Campus Thread webpage  to learn more.

Other resources

Student Support Services offers a variety of resources for students.

The Campus Food Pantry provides food for students in need.

Additionally, the UWL Emergency Fund awards grants to students who qualify.