Over the years, a number of KO students have planned fundraisers, initiated clubs, and promoted organizations close to their hearts; however, these are often one-time events. This is certainly not the case for the yearly clothing and linen drive started by the three Vaughn sisters: freshman Alina Vaughn, junior Annelise Vaughn, and senior Ainsley Vaughn.
The clothing drive serves to provide basic items to homeless people through the Cornerstone Foundation in Vernon. It accepts a broad variety of donations, so items such as clothes and blankets are accepted. “Our main goal is to help a homeless shelter in Vernon, which focuses on helping people find homes of any sort,” Ainsley said.
Students are encouraged to donate because it is a good deed and because the sisters have secured a dress down day for the form that brings in the most items. The sisters undertook similar work at schools in Jamaica, where their father was able to reach out and help them organize a drive. They worked with Fleet Feet in West Hartford and collected money donations, as well as running shoes and spikes for the school’s track team. The sisters even ended up in both local and Jamaican newspapers, and they were also on TV!
“The experience was amazing,” Annelise said. “When my sisters and I went to Jamaica and delivered all of the new spikes and shoes to the track team, it was very eye-opening. We were still young, so I think it was really good for us to see and talk with people who were less fortunate and understand where they are coming from and be able to see the difference we made.”
The sisters chose the Cornerstone Foundation specifically because they wanted to take on the same task locally. “Plus, we live in South Windsor so we’re kind of close to the foundation,” Annelise said. “Since it’s almost winter, I think we wanted to do something different than a book or shoe drive.” Alina agreed. “We especially wanted to collect items for the winter because of how cold it can get, and whatever clothing we can collect for warmth will definitely be helpful for those who need it,” she said.
In order to actually begin the drive at KO, the sisters had to get Dean of Students William Gilyard’s approval. “We met with Mr. Gilyard last year and really figured out all the details, so this year, we just touched base with him again and [with] the foundation,” Ainsley said. “Then, all we had left to do was make the announcement and get the word out there!” The sisters said they hope to continue this drive for many years, despite Ainsley’s graduation this coming May, leaving her sisters in charge. “Hopefully it will continue with Annelise and Alina and we can collect a lot of items to give to others,” Ainsley said.
Annelise plans to keep the drive the same next year since it has been such a success thus far. “We will probably run it the same way; one year, we might change the prize, but the basics will stay the same,” she said. Aside from earning a dress down day, the clothing drive is important for a number of reasons. KO students value the feeling of being able to give back. “Just being able to bring in items for those less fortunate than I am is better than a dress down day,” sophomore Katharine Doar said.
“I have clothing that I don’t need or wear anymore, so rather than throwing the clothes out or keeping them in the back of my closet, this clothing drive helps me put the clothing to a greater use.” Annelise agreed. “It’s just a good feeling to go to the shelter and drop off all the donations and feel like a lot of people really contributed,” she said. “It’s a beneficial experience to talk with the woman who runs the foundation and to see how organizing the drive has had an impact because there’s been a lot donated,” Ainsley said. Ainsley also noted that getting the whole community together to support a greater cause is what makes the drive all the more worth it.
In the end, Form 4 came out victorious, donating 533 items. Second place went to the faculty and staff who are not advisors, with 210 items, then form 6 with 163 items, form 3 with 120 items, and form 5, with 81 items. The ending total was 1,107 pieces of clothing and linens that will certainly aid the Cornerstone Foundation and the homeless people the foundation supports. The sisters want to thank everyone for participating to support this wonderful cause!