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Oct. 24, 2013 Volume 35, No. 10

Truman’s Closet dresses patrons for success

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Some of Truman’s Closet staff, from left: Mikala Vaughn, Lanre Shitta-Bey, Brianna Donahue, Charles Hall, Sean Joy (sitting), Sarah Snow, Curtis Jones, Heather Parrie and Lauren Alexander. Photo by Naveen Mahadevan.

Donations are accepted at the Rock Quarry Road location during business hours three days a week

The University of Missouri is doing a lot for people as the holiday season approaches. 

Tiger Pantry, 1400 Rock Quarry Road, supplies nonperishable food for the hungry. Staffed by MU students, the pantry is part of the Food Bank for Central and Northeast Missouri, which receives funding from the Heart of Missouri United Way. On Oct. 1, Truman’s Closet opened as part of Tiger Pantry.

Truman’s Closet rents business attire to the MU community, though most of its customers are students. The occasion might be a job interview, a conference or a presentation.

Donations can be made at the Center for Student Involvement at the MU Student Center or at Truman’s Closet during operating hours: 2:30–5 p.m. Sunday, 9–noon Tuesday, and 3–6 p.m. Thursday. Items most needed are suits, slacks, heels, shoes and dresses.

Plans are to open a Truman’s Closet in the Student Center for easier access, said Kathleen Kowalsky, coordinator for Truman’s Closet and a sophomore studying textile and apparel management.

Volunteers for Truman’s Closet help customers choose an outfit based on the event they’re attending, and help them prepare mentally by asking interview prep questions.

“When you walk into an interview, the first thing they’re going to see is what you’re wearing,” Kowalsky said.

However, she said, Truman’s Closet wants to take that first impression a step further by helping students not only look professional but also feel confident and behave professionally.

The program is partnering with departments on campus, such as the MU Career Center, to host monthly educational events.

“We wanted this to be something that could inspire students and promote our values at the university — respect, responsibility, discovery and excellence — in every way possible,” says Sean Joy, director of student services and a graduate student studying occupational therapy.

Before Truman’s Closet opened, scores of students signed a poster in the MU Student Center in support of the new resource.

In January 2012, Nick Droege, then director of student services and now Missouri Student Association president, returned from the SEC Student Government Exchange with two big ideas: a campus food assistance program (which launched last October as Tiger Pantry) and a business-attire lending program.

When Joy stepped into the position of director of student services, he took the reins to implement Truman’s Closet.

“When Nick created the pantry, they did some research and found statistics about food insecurity on campus,” he said.

If research shows that the MU community could benefit from a food-assistance program, Joy said, they likely have other crucial needs that resources such as Truman’s Closet can fill.

“We want to provide every student with the opportunity to be successful,” Joy said. “Some people can’t afford to go out and buy new things. Or maybe they’re nervous [about their economic situation] and don’t know what to purchase.”

Joy assembled a team to make the program a reality, starting with Kowalsky as coordinator. “I wanted someone that really could get people excited and motivate people to want to be a better professional in many ways,” Joy said.

The rest of the team includes six additional executive board members and 18 volunteers.

 “One thing that is so special about our school is that we embrace everyone,” Joy said. “This project has really given me the chance to see that in a different way. We are supportive of one another. We are One Mizzou.”