By Staci Engman
Necessity is the mother of invention. Linda Miner is the mother who invented the School Uniform Swap when she saw the necessity.
When her son, Ryan, was a pre-K student at Dr. Sue Shook Elementary in the Socorro Independent School District (SISD), Miner saw that many of his classmates were wearing torn or ill-fitting clothing. She brought Ryan’s teacher his outgrown school uniforms to distribute to the students as needed.
Miner then reached out to friends and community leaders in the hope of making the swap an official event. She held a meeting and only two other moms showed up. Undeterred, the self-described Three Crazy Moms carried on with planning and organizing the event and soliciting donations. Their efforts paid off in a big way when the Ysleta Lions Club agreed to sponsor it. Thus, the School Uniform Swap was born!
In 2010, with the help of 50 volunteers, the first official School Uniform Swap was launched. The event drew 400 attendees, many of whom donated uniforms in exchange for vouchers to redeem for needed items. Others were also welcomed on a first come, first served basis.
Now in its eighth year, the swap draws 150 volunteers and serves about 1,000 students. Miner enthuses, “Helping 1,000 children build confidence and self-esteem by wearing the right size clothing is priceless!” It is the largest recycling event in El Paso and continues to grow each year, thanks in large part to the support of several local Lions Club chapters, the Kiwani’s Club of Horizon City, SISD, and other generous organizations and individuals.
In addition to uniforms, new and gently used backpacks, jackets, school supplies, lunch boxes, and books are distributed at the swap. Donations are always accepted, and Miner encourages people to set up collection boxes at work or school. There are several drop-off stations throughout the city.
The next step for Miner is to further expand the event to different parts of town. “It started at schools in Horizon City and quickly spread to all of El Paso County and southern New Mexico,” she says. “It remains open to all school districts.” Any parent can set up a uniform swap at their child’s school. Miner trains interested volunteers each year at the Eastlake High School swap. A swap event takes about two months to organize and can be easily replicated anywhere following the system presently in use.
For Miner and her large crew of volunteers, the School Uniform Swap is a labor of love that is worthwhile and gratifying, and she wants to share the experience with other big-hearted people. “Helping children is my passion,” she says. “The smiles and hugs we receive during the swap fills our hearts with joy! Come and feel the love July 14th at Eastlake High School.”
What: School Uniform Swap
Where: Eastlake High School, 13000 Emerald Pass Dr. 79928
When: Saturday, July 14, 2018 at 8:00 am to 12:00 pm
Visit https://www.facebook.com/groups/220693311307218/ for more information. To volunteer, call 915-203-0346.