Peer navigator Samantha Vivian-Gonzales sorts some of the clothing that was donated to the Socorro schools by Walmart.
Cathy Cook | El Defensor Chieftain photos

Just before the holiday break, the Socorro Walmart donated at least 18 palettes of clothing to the Socorro Consolidated School District. The substantial donation will allow the district to expand its existing clothing closets.

“The school district appreciates the community-minded donation that Walmart gave, the generous donation that Walmart gave, and appreciates that they recognize how Socorro takes care of all its residents,” said Socorro Superintendent Ron Hendrix.

The school district already has the Michigan Avenue Marketplace, a school store at Socorro High School where any student can pick up free clothing or food they may need, plus small clothing closets at Sarracino Middle School and Parkview Elementary School.

Socorro schools will be able to expand their clothing assistance after a significant donation from Walmart.

The donation will allow them to offer clothing items at every school in the district, including Midway and San Antonio schools, said Samantha Vivian-Gonzales, peer navigator for Project AWARE. The donation includes clothes, shoes, underwear and socks.

The donation is being sorted and distributed by the school’s Project AWARE, a program to help meet student and family needs, including assisting with mental crises and connecting families with services in the community.

“There are so many kids out there right now that don’t have the stuff they need to come to school every day, like clothing, food,” said Vivian-Gonzales. “There’s so much need out there, and I’m not trying to say that Socorro’s a needy place, but there’s so much that we can do with this donation just to take things off of the families, the need off of these families. They’re struggling right now with the cost of prices and everything else just to make ends meet.”

Project AWARE is in its first full year as a program, and includes a team of three, project manager Jackie Muncy, Anna Lear, a clinician who works as a therapist throughout the Socorro schools, and Vivian-Gonzales who helps families get resources, clothes and food, plus is a listening ear for students who need someone to talk to.

Project AWARE has helped keep families aware of the services available through the school district, said Hendrix. With the sizeable clothing donation, the Project AWARE team are hoping to have clothing spaces in every school within a month, said Vivian-Gonzales.