Providing ‘warmth and support’ to homeless students


Photo by Mark Brennan/Siuslaw News

Community donates to Siuslaw Special Programs

Dec. 11, 2021 — On Dec. 9, Florence Habitat for Humanity hosted a Youth Clothing Collection to benefit Siuslaw School District Special Programs and its pantry for homeless students.

“Many caring individuals are stepping up to help our homeless students over the holidays,” said Special Programs Director Lisa Utz. 

She thanked Florence Habitat and resident Gary Cargill, president of Rods ‘N’ Rhodies, Inc., and owner of Florence In Bloom, for the clothing drive. 

The two-hour event was sponsored by Habitat, Florence in Bloom, Siuslaw News, Siuslaw Valley Fire and Rescue and the Rhody Cruisers. Santa Claus also attended.

People were encouraged to donate new clothing items for both boys and girls 5 to 18 years old, including sweatpants, leggings, sweatshirts, socks, pajamas, underwear, jackets and warm blankets. Cash donations were also accepted for the program.

“It went really well and was very successful,” Cargill said. “They’ll be able to do quite a bit with what we received.”

He said he reached out to the school district to “see what he could do” this time of year. That put him in contact with Special Services Secretary Ella Glowacki. 

“She said, ‘We definitely have a need for clothing,’ so I said, ‘OK, we’ll do that,’” Cargill said. “We had a good time with it, and we’re still collecting through Dec. 15.”

Both Florence in Bloom, 1234 Rhododendron Dr., and  Florence Habitat ReStore, 2004 Highway 101, will collect new clothing items through Wednesday.

In her December report to the Siuslaw School District Board of Directors, Utz went on to thank community members Denise Renner, owner of Cheveux Salon, for hosting a drive for pajamas and fleece blankets; Cross Road Assembly of God for donating bags of new socks; Siuslaw Education Foundation for donating dozens of jackets and pants; and Sharon McCoy and her women's ministry for donating toiletries and socks.

“We have lots of socks, fleece blankets, sleeping bags and toiletries,” Utz said of the stocked McKinney-Vento storage room. “Next week, we expect to receive several gift cards to McDonald’s, Subway and Taco Bell, which will be handy for those students who will struggle

without the school's free meals over the holiday break.”

Thanks to the community’s efforts, Siuslaw Special Programs is “ready to send warmth and support to students” in need.

For more information about Siuslaw School District’s program for homeless education, visit