Photos by Joseph Serrata/The Collegian
The Big Heart Bazaar on NE Campus allowed anyone to pick out five items from clothing, shoes and accessories for free or by making a small cash donation. Photos by Joseph Serrata/The Collegian

By Jessica Strange/reporter

Racks of donated clothing, tables of accessories, festive Valentine’s Day refreshments and dozens of volunteers filled the NSTU halls for career services’ Big Heart Bazaar Feb. 14.

The event was put on to raise awareness for a future NE clothing closet that will be a new resource to TCC students.

“At TCC NE, we have students that are homeless,” said Stephanie Rettig, NE career services coordinator. “They live in their car or they don’t have a home. Some of them can’t even go to Goodwill and put together a professional outfit for an interview.”

The intention of the closet is to prepare students for success beyond just providing an education.

“We’re giving them the education they need to get a job, but then they’re not able to have the right outfit in order to get hired,” Rettig said. “That’s where this stemmed from.”

NE career services and Linda Quinn, NE communication, arts and entertainment dean, collaborated with others to put the bazaar together. Plans for the future closet are still in the works, but it will be a space where students can come to find gently-used business and casual clothes for little or no cost to them.

“Our whole goal is for people to take what they need, donate clothing if they can [and] donate any amount that they can to help us sustain the clothing closet,” Quinn said.

The future clothes closet will be different from your normal second-hand clothes shopping experience.

“The hope is that it’s like a boutique so you don’t feel like you’re walking into a Goodwill or to a thrift store necessarily,” Rettig said. “It’s a more high-end feel, a real cute, welcoming environment.”

Photos by Joseph Serrata/The Collegian
NE student Steven Parker looks through clothing items at the Big Heart Bazaar Feb. 14 on NE campus. Photos by Joseph Serrata/The Collegian

Over 30 student volunteers came together to help on the day of the bazaar. NE students Valerie Esquivel and Ryan Tidwell heard of the opportunity through their public speaking class.

“I’m going for a degree in fashion,” Esquivel said. “So, when I heard about it, I thought it was great. It’s a volunteer opportunity. So, it looks great on a resume, and on top of that, you get to help people out too.”

Volunteers were able to help TCC students find all sorts of new-to-them clothing. Business, casual and even children’s clothing were all available.

“Some of these students are also shopping for husbands, wives and kids,” Tidwell said.

All of the clothes and accessories at the bazaar came from donations made by TCC students and faculty. Over 1,000 items were donated just days before the event.

“I was very grateful to the generosity of our campus family and also our surrounding community,” Quinn said.

It’s that same generosity that will fuel the clothes closet once it opens. Students and faculty who are interested in helping with future closet needs can contact Stephanie Rettig at stephanie.rettig@tccd.edu or Linda Quinn at linda.quinn@tccd.edu.