Share What You Wear discontinued

Iowa Central encourages donations to other local agencies

-Messenger file photo by Hans Madsen
Evelynn Dent, 7, of Humboldt, holds up two bows while helping her mom, Liz Dent, wrap presents during the 18th annual Share What You Wear event Dec. 3, 2022, at Iowa Central.

Unlike in years past, Iowa Central Community College’s Career Education Building isn’t going to be packed to the gills with new and gently-used clothing, toys, household items and more while “shoppers” snake their way through the maze of donations this weekend.

For 18 years, Iowa Central hosted Share What You Wear, an annual service project with students and community members focused on assisting those in need over the holiday season. It appears the 2022 event was the final version of it.

On Oct. 31, Vice President of Student Services Tom Beneke sent an email to college faculty and staff informing them that the college would not be hosting Share What You Wear this year.

“We are recommending that our team donate to local organizations instead of giving to the college’s ‘Share What You Wear’ program,” Beneke wrote in the email. “We are encouraging donations of gently used items to organizations such as The Key on Central for D/SAOC, The Second Chance Thrift Store for the Beacon of Hope Shelter, and One Vision General Store or their charity of choice.”

Samantha Reeves, dean of student services, confirmed that Share What You Wear has been discontinued at Iowa Central.

“Collectively, our organization donates to local organizations and puts forth other efforts into giving back to our community,” Reeves said. “So that was kind of the conversation … we’re going to reevaluate this year and we’re going to donate to those organizations instead of doing Share What You Wear.”

Reeves said she’s working with One Vision, one of the organizations the college would work with during Share What You Wear, to hold a “drop-in drive” at some point.

“One Vision would set up their drive-in trailer and then students, faculty and community members would be able to donate stuff and then One Vision can use them for their organizational purposes,” she said. “I know a lot of people are wanting to donate items or have mentioned donating items, so this is going to be a great opportunity that they’ll be able to.”

Reeves was unable to share specifically why the decision to discontinue Share What You Wear was made and referred The Messenger to Beneke for that information. The Messenger reached out to Beneke several times by phone and email over the last few weeks and as of press time on Tuesday, had not received a response.

“Each year, Iowa Central reviews the impact it makes in Fort Dodge and the surrounding area,” Beneke wrote in the Oct. 31 email to staff. “The list of partnerships through volunteering has grown substantially as enrollment increased and students started new traditions. Iowa Central is very involved in activities, including the annual Fort Dodge Ford Thanksgiving Dinner, hosting different festivals such as the recent Afro-Latino Festival and STEAM Fest, participating in the Purple Walk for Alzheimer’s, providing instrumental music for the Brushy Creek Area Honor Flight, making blankets for community groups, serving meals to the less fortunate, participating in community parades, hosting youth camps, various photography projects to highlight communities and organizations, parking cars for the Cruise to the Woods show and many, many more.”

Share What You Wear began in 2004 as a joint effort of the Iowa Central Student Senate and the Phi Theta Kappa honor society. Over the years, it grew to involve the entire campus community of students, faculty and staff.

In preparation for the event, typically held the first weekend in December, students would begin collecting donated items in November. Throughout the month, they’d sort the donations by type and size and set up tables and tables of items in the Career Education Building. On the day of the event, it was common for hundreds of people to line up outside the doors, waiting for it to open so they could “shop” for what they need. Unlike most shopping trips, though, these items didn’t cost them anything. Neither did the gift-wrapping.

For many of those who have attended Share What You Wear over the years, the event has provided some relief during the holidays for families with tight budgets.

Janet Earls, who volunteered at Share What You Wear for many years, told The Messenger in 2021 that she had people tell her, “If it wasn’t for you, we wouldn’t have a Christmas.”


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