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Uniform Swap benefits students, becomes largest recycling event in city

Uniform Swap benefits students1
Uniform Swap benefits students2
Uniform Swap benefits students3

What started off as a uniform exchange between two parents grew to become an annual uniform swap and the largest recycling event in El Paso, helping more than 1,000 students receive uniforms upon their return to school.

Hundreds of families gathered for the annual Horizon City Lions Club’s School Uniform Swap, an event that allows families to exchange gently-used uniforms, receive uniforms, books, backpacks and supplies for the 2016-2017 school year on July 16 at Eastlake High School.

“It started with two people and it grew from there,” said Bernadette Rodriguez, event coordinator. “This year we had triple the volunteers we had last year and parents who came all the way from Las Cruces. The uniform swap is now the largest recycling event in El Paso.”

Since the launch of the program seven years ago, parents have had the opportunity to turn in their children’s slightly-worn clean uniforms and receive a credit voucher to select from the large assortment of polo shirts, T-shirts, pants, shorts, capris, skirts and skorts offered at the swap. School supplies and backpacks also are distributed every year.

“The uniform swap helps boost morale among the children so they feel and perform better in school,” Rodriguez said. “Parents were very grateful and the students were very happy when they received their backpacks and supplies.”

The Eastlake High School gymnasium was filled with happy parents, students and volunteers that walked through lines and tables of clothing.

“It feels good to volunteer,” said Christina Neira, a parent at Elfida P. Chavez Elementary School. “The uniform swap helps other people who don’t have the means to buy books, backpacks and supplies for their children. This event helps me as well since I have three kids of my own and uniforms are expensive.”

Rodriguez said the event helps families save on the cost of school uniforms, which averages at about $15 per uniform set.

“To some people it’s either dinner time or uniforms for their children,” she said. “This event helps parents because expenses don’t come out of their pocket.”

Victor Burgos, a seventh grade student at Salvador Sanchez Middle School, said he was happy to turn in uniforms that no longer fit him to help others.

“It’s nice that my clothes can go to someone else who needs it,” said Burgos. “Not everyone has the same privileges. I brought four shirts and two pants and I hope to get uniforms, composition books and pencils."

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