Buffalo State fashion merchandising students hosted a clothing giveaway Saturday at the Asarese-Matters Community Center, located at 50 Rees Street near the campus.
Asarese-Matters is a multicultural center that provides afterschool, academic, and recreational programming to children ages 8 to 18. Many of those who use the center are newly arrived refugees who speak little English.
As part of the “New World, New Wardrobe” project, 44 students in assistant professor KeunYoung Oh’s Introduction to Fashion Merchandising course collected adult and children’s garments for the giveaway.
“We collected 24 racks worth of clothing for men, women, juniors, kids, and infants, along with shoes and accessories such as gloves, hats, and scarves,” Oh said.
Introduction to Fashion Merchandising is a service-learning course in which students must complete a semester-long project that benefits the larger community.
“I gave them the big idea of a clothing drive, and they took it from there,” said Oh, who hopes to make this a biannual event. “They created the marketing plan, created the flyers, and organized the donations. They also set up a retail store-like event so the refugees could experience a real shopping experience for free.”
Students sought donations in their dorms and workplaces. Some collaborated with Girl Scout troops and churches.
A representative from Journey’s End Refugee Services Inc. visited Oh’s class earlier in the semester and explained that most refugee families arrive at the Buffalo Niagara International Airport with just the clothes they are wearing. Thus, the need for such a clothing drive is great.
Interestingly, Oh’s students also gained insights on the refugee experience from a member of the class. Freshman Win Han came to Buffalo as a refugee from Myanmar when he was in high school. Now, he is a fashion merchandising major and has helped organize all aspects of the clothing giveaway.
“He is so positive,” Oh said. “We have all learned from him.”