Community members use donations to dress for success

Landing a job can be tough, especially when you don’t have the right outfit to help you put your best foot forward. Students at Western Technical College are helping those who might not be able to afford professional clothing.

The fourth annual Suits for Success event Wednesday was open to all community members, offering everything from shoes and ties to dresses and suits. People were welcome to come in and pick out one business casual outfit and one more formal look– for free.

Alexis Thompson is trying to find an outfit for her friend.

“She’s kind of spunky some times,” said the Western Technical College student.

They have to look good for a class event at the end of the semester.

“I just took those guidelines that our teacher already gave us and she just gave me her sizes,” Thompson said.

As she searched through the clothing, Nate Houchin was trying to pick out and outfit for himself.

“Tough color to match with here,” said Houchin, referring to his bright green shirt.

Although he’s a freshman, he’ll soon need more business attire.

“Especially in the business world, you’re going to need dress clothes for a lot of different stuff,” Houchin said.

The organizers know that when you’re just starting off, it’s hard to stock up.

“Business attire isn’t cheap,” said Anne Franta, one of the student organizers.

As part of the Professional Profile Development course, students worked with area businesses to get the donations.

“Some of them set up community donation sites so people from the community could go to those locations and donate their items as well,” Franta said.

That is how the students can provide the service for free. That’s perfect for Houchin, who doesn’t quite have the money to get a brand new suit.

“Free? I can definitely do that,” Houchin said.

Those at the Suits for Success event were also working on networking, which is all about making connections and introducing yourself, according to Nina Eckelberg. She said that clothing provides confidence.

“So when they go to that interview, they’re a little more positive,” Eckelberg said.

The students also give recipients confidence in other areas by sharing what they’ve learned at Western.

“To put toward their new careers with their job interviews and just kinda how to get that job,” Eckelberg said.

Before they headed out the door, some stopped for a quick head shot in their brand new outfit or had an outfit in hand.

“I’m going to go classic black and white here,” Thompson said.

Even those who didn’t come to the event to get clothing were looking forward to taking one more walk around.

“I’ve actually been looking around for myself here,” Franta said.

Any leftover donations will be passed on to local nonprofit organizations, including the Salvation Army.