The expansion of the uniform recycling project not only helped new Culver students this fall, it has reached around the world to benefit a home of special needs women in Ukraine.
While families have always recycled uniforms informally, many clothes were going to the landfill when graduating students left. For their 2018 senior service project, Brennah Ungar, Ryker Knight, and Owen Brennan formalized a plan to collect those clothes and then worked with the uniform department to clean and prepare them for new students as part of Culver’s comprehensive financial assistance program.
Amanda Kurteff ’19 (Plainfield, Ill.) took over the project last spring and enlisted first classmen Jack Schmiedlin (Culver) and Grant Boos (Lisle, Ill.) to work with her. Working with Sustainability Director Chris Kline ’82 Uniform Manager Matt White, they collected uniform shirts, pants, kilts, fatigue C jackets, regulation recreational clothing, shoes, and bedding.
The results were impressive. They collected 20 fatigue C jackets after receiving just one the first year. They also collected a high number of light blue, long-sleeved shirts and navy, long-sleeved shirts, Boos said.
The group finished with 55 large bags of items, filling one of the locker rooms in the hockey rink. The facilities staff helped them move the clothes to the basement of the laundry, where they sorted and graded the clothes. The laundry then cleaned the clothes and did any necessary mending.
“The project really grew from last year,” Kurteff said. “Naturally, we picked the hottest day of the year to move the clothes.”
The students who would receive the clothes were identified and a survey was sent to those families to collect their sizes. When each student went through registration, he or she received a packaged set of uniforms. By the time registration was over, the program had recycled $7,993 worth of CMA apparel and another $2,185.44 in CGA clothing. Thirty-seven new Culver families benefited from the $10,118.44 worth of clothes.
White also arranged for the remaining 2,047 pounds of clothes, shoes, and bedding to be given to the South Bend-based charity, Feed the Hungry, which distributed the items through its international network.
Some were delivered to the Pugachivka Psychoneurological Orphanage in Ukraine. The orphanage is actually a home to 82 women with disabilities. Due to the poor state of the Ukrainian economy, the government cannot provide enough funding to cover all the home’s needs.
Feed the Hungry connected with Mission Eurasia’s School Without Walls to deliver a shipment of Culver clothing, shoes, and blankets to the home. A few days ago, White received a message thanking Culver for the donation and photos of the women wearing the casual clothing and he passed it on to the students.
It was a pleasant surprise for Kurteff, Schmiedlin, and Boos.
“To know that we made a difference, not only at Culver, but around the world,” Schmiedlin said. “It’s been really satisfying.”