Miller High School has a clothes closet and food pantry.  (Contributed photo by Melissa Stanhope)

For the first time since it opened, the Fontana A.B. Miller High School Clothes Closet will be open to the public this Saturday, Dec. 8, in an effort to assist the neediest of families in the area.

According to Melissa Stanhope, the pantry and community closet coordinator, the opening to the public at large is to combat the effects of poverty and high unemployment rates among local families by providing them access to warm clothing during this winter. In general, the clothes closet has been used specifically to help students and their families.

“The clothes closet will be open this Saturday from 9 a.m. until noon for families wanting to provide lightly used clothing and shoes to their family members. We have resources ranging from infants to adults,” said Stanhope. “The location is on Portable 10 on the Oleander Avenue side of the campus.”

Stanhope added that her volunteers are currently holding two drives to collect warm clothing, blankets, and socks so that low income families don’t have to suffer the effects of the cold weather. In addition, they are holding a Christmas drive to collect new, unwrapped toys, books, or games as well as gift cards for the homeless student population and foster children and families, said Stanhope.

“We do what we can to assist our students; we want them to know they are not alone and they are definitely not forgotten,” she said.

With the help of the dedicated volunteers, including Renie Grunheid and Susana Villanueva, school staff, and students, the pantry and clothes closet has provided assistance to hundreds of students since 2013. This past Thanksgiving, they provided food baskets to low income families with limited resources.

“Renie is extremely resourceful at getting donations for our causes, Susana diligently builds food baskets for families with limited resources, and I organize what is collected, reach out to community partners for donations, and work with our AVID, HSA, and community service minded students to inventory and distribute resources,” said Stanhope. “Yesenia Olguin often helps out with whatever is needed as well. Our principal, Dr. Dustin Saxton, is extremely supportive of our efforts, making available time and resources as we need. Our staff is exceptionally giving to our students and families."

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