Store allows students to ‘swap up’

City Hill Middle School eighth-grader Kelyse Hall models a gown during a fashion show at the school in Naugatuck on Feb. 22. The show was to promote #SwapUp, a clothing store in the school that allows students to bring in new or gently-used clothing and trade them for items in the store. –LUKE MARSHALL

NAUGATUCK — City Hill Middle School students flaunted a variety of fashions from T-shirts and jeans to evening gowns as they walked across the school’s stage for a fashion show in late February.

All of the afternoon’s attire is now available to students at the school’s #SwapUp clothing store.

The store is designed to help students whose families may not have the money or ability to buy them new clothing, but is open to all students. Unlike most clothing closets, #SwapUp allows students to bring in new or gently-used clothing they have outgrown and swap them for something else in the store.

“Some agencies have plain clothing closets that are small. But what if we made this something that is really nice, got all the kids involved, and wasn’t just for the kids who are in need, but everyone. That way there is no stigma, and it is just a fun, awesome place that school has to offer,” said Autumn Cloud-Ingran, a social worker in the district who spearheaded developing the clothing store.

Students are able to take the same number of items they donate to the store, Cloud-Ingran said.

“They don’t have to match. They could bring in a pair of shoes and pair of shorts, and take a dress and scarf,” Cloud-Ingran said.

Cloud-Ingran said the fashion show on Feb. 22, which kicked off the grand opening of the store, was the best way to let students know about all the types of clothing and accessories available at #SwapUp.

City Hill seventh-grader Ben Bristol, who directed the fashion and modeled in it, said the store is important because gives students who may not be able to afford new clothes the ability to get new clothes while providing all students a chance to donate clothes that don’t fit and swap up for clothes that they will wear.

City Hill eighth-graders Kelyse Hall and Sara Xavier, who were both models during the fashion show, echoed Bristol’s comments.

City Hill Middle School eighth-grader Sara Xavier models a gown during a fashion show at the school in Naugatuck on Feb. 22. The show was to promote #SwapUp, a clothing store in the school that allows students to bring in new or gently-used clothing and trade them for items in the store. –LUKE MARSHALL

“I think the swap up project is important because it promotes clothes that some people want but can’t have, but if it is in the store it gives much more opportunities for kids,” Xavier said. “I think it will help students at school because many kids are judged by their clothes and what they wear on a daily basis, but with the store they can have better options if they like because more students are less fortunate than others.”

“I believe the students that don’t have money for new clothes will have the chance to find new clothes,” Hall said.

The store is open one or two times a week for now but may open more frequently in the near future, Cloud-Ingran said.

Cloud-Ingran said the school received a tremendous response from the community, with businesses and residents providing donations, as word of the store spread.

“I have only gotten wonderful, positive responses and people asking how they can help. That’s good because when you start on an endeavor like this, you are never really sure which way it is going to go,” Cloud-Ingran said.

Anyone who wants to donate to the store can contact Cloud-Ingran at 203-720-5250.