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Wheeling student starts first District-wide clothing drive

Published August 29, 2022
By Eileen Daday | SuburbTalk

Samantha Springer of Prospect Heights is a middle blocker on the Wheeling High School volleyball team, and she leads her section in the school’s gospel choir. But she has another passion among her many interests: thrifting.

This enterprising senior kicked off a two-week clothing drive in August, drawing donations – intended for children and teens — from every school in Northwest Suburban High School District 214. It resulted in a massive Thrift Day, as she called it, with thousands of clothing items made available for free during the event Saturday at Wheeling High.

“I love thrifting, and on a trip to San Francisco, I saw all these street vendors and flea markets,” Samantha says. “It inspired me to start this. I see this as a clothing exchange.”

Samantha said the event was about recycling and eliminating textile waste, while making clothing accessible to anyone in the community.

“There are so many families in need,” she said. “Everyone should have access to clothing. It’s not a luxury item. And for kids, clothes are such a meaningful express of who they are.”

Not only did Samantha and her friends draw thousands of donations, they also drew volunteers from each school to volunteer at the event, including a District 214 board member who stopped by to donate clothes – and ended up sorting donations.

“I have tears in my eyes, to see what one student can create,” said Andrea Rauch. “She’s a spark, she’s bringing hope and inspiration to so many families in need.

“This is what District 214 hopes to create, students who inspire the community,” she added. “The world should be aware that one person can make a difference.”

This story is not over. The school hopes to take the remaining clothes and combine it with a coat drive closer to winter.