Teen Clean Closet has locations in multiple Royal Oak Schools and other locations in the city.

Teen Clean Closet has locations in multiple Royal Oak Schools and other locations in the city.

Photo provided by Teen Clean Closet

Teen Clean Closet in Royal Oak looking for donations to help students

By: Mike Koury | Royal Oak Review | Published December 5, 2023


ROYAL OAK — A local nonprofit organization is looking for donations to help students in need.

The Teen Clean Closet helps provide hygiene products for students in the area and has been in operation since 2017. The closet has locations in Royal Oak High School, Royal Oak Middle School, Addams Elementary School and the Churchill Community Education Center.

“If a student needs something, they go and get it,” said co-founder Kim Johnson. “Usually, most of the closet locations in schools are facilitated by administrators and staff members. So a student might approach the counselor, or more likely what happens is a teacher or counselor recognizes that a student needs support and offers them the opportunity to go to the closet and get what they need.”

Johnson runs the closet with her co-founder, Erica McEvoy, and her daughter, Rachael Johnson. The closet items are provided to students at no cost and vary from deodorant, shampoo, conditioner, body wash and bars of soap.

There also are locations at the Royal Oak Public Library, Royal Oak Senior Community Center and Metro Detroit Youth Club.

“Sometimes some of the locations have hand soap, the senior center closet has laundry supplies, hand moisturizer, ChapStick, toothpaste, toothbrushes, dental floss,” Johnson said.

Royal Oak Schools Superintendent Mary Beth Fitzpatrick said the closets are directly available to students in the schools, though for the elementary location, students can go to the office to retrieve anything they need.

“We definitely have seen a need from the families and from the students,” she said. “Some of the things are nice to have and others are just a must-have that sometimes, you know, they don’t quite afford to have or don’t have the means to get. So we know the closet helps quite a bit.”

According to the closet, it has seen a 20% increase in use this year. However, there also has been a 40% decrease in donations, which has led to its latest drive to ask the community for support.

“I think that for the students that need these products, it’s a level of independence that they can go and get things for themselves that they need and can take them home,” Fitzpatrick said. “It also gives them one less thing to worry about, either as a student or a member of their family who may have some competing needs, and it’s absolutely an asset to our district and for our kids.”

Johnson said anyone looking to donate items can bring them from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Mondays to Fridays to the Metro Detroit Youth Club, 1545 E. Lincoln Ave., or from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays to Fridays to the Senior Community Center, 3500 Marais Ave. People also can buy items on a wish list or donate directly to the closet. For more information, visit teencleancloset.com.