At the beginning of 2022, the Rialto Unified School District unveiled its latest project, The Kindness Connection: Clothing and More.
This project initially started as the Clothing Tree in 2011, created by Angela Brantly, RUSD Lead Student Services Agent, and Gordon Leary, RUSD Chief of Safety. Unlike the Kindness Connection today, the Clothing Tree accepted donations of used and semi-new clothes instead of brand-new clothes.
According to the leader of the Kindness Connection, Dr. Cuauhtémoc Avila, RUSD Superintendent, “I made it a point to make sure everything that’s given to our kids is new. So that they can have that experience every kid should have in looking their best and feeling their best when they attend school.”
The Kindness Connection was a huge step for the Rialto Community: it provides brand-new clothes to families struggling financially … all free of charge! Child Welfare and Attendance Agent, Mr. Adam Waggoner says, “We want students to feel confident, we want students to not be ashamed of what they’re wearing when they go to school.”
This boutique-style clothing store, located at 324 North Palm Avenue, is open to all students enrolled in the Rialto Unified School District by appointment only. This helps maintain an air of privacy and dignity for the students, which is the ultimate goal of the boutique. Students in need are identified by school counselors and administrators who collaborate with a Child Welfare and Attendance Agent. Mrs. Stephanie E. Lewis, RUSD Board Vice President, emphasizes “we’ve taken away the shame of asking and we brought dignity.”
In order to keep this business afloat, donations are welcome as long as they meet the criteria: school appropriate attire only, brand new items only, and tops, bottoms, and undergarments suitable for males and females in grades Pre-k to 12. Toiletries are also welcome. With joyfulness Brantly says, “I’m so excited that Rialto is willing to do this kind of level of support for our kids, our kids deserve it.”
For more information on the Kindness Connection Boutique, contact Krystal Rojas, Brenda Salas, and McKinney/Vento Liaisons at 909-873-4336. Or contact them through their website or Instagram page @rialto_usd.