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New community closet at WWU is focused on sustainability

The Western Worn Community Closet has used clothing and new basic necessities, all for free

Jessica Dietzman [left] and Maya Schrader [right], founders of the Western Worn Community Closet. They stand in the closet in High Street Hall room 33 on May 22, 2024, in Bellingham, Wash. // Photo by Mars Wetzbarger

What started as a class project is now a free community closet on Western Washington University's campus. Located in room 33 of High Street Hall, Western students Jessica Dietzman and Maya Schrader run the Western Worn Community Closet. The WWCC is a sustainable and accessible on-campus option for students in need of clothing.

The project was made possible through the Sustainability, Equity and Justice Fund through the Sustainability Engagement Institute. It started as Martina Bartel's WWU Business and Sustainibility senior capstone project. From there, Dietzman and Schrader joined the project after noticing a lack of free, casual clothing resources on campus. Bartel led and managed the group for her senior capstone. With both Dietzman and Schrader majoring in business and sustainability, this project was the perfect collision of their passions. 

“It's been a whole journey, but it just started from one idea in one class and then transformed,” Dietzman said.

This class was in the fall of 2022, and after almost two years in the making, the official opening day was April 15. Dietzman and Schrader are both graduating this spring and passing the project on to new students.

“It took almost two years to get the grant approved, figure out the space to put the closet and [find individuals] who can support it,” Dietzman said.


Dresses, blouses and shirts above bins where donations are accepted. Taken at the Western Worn Community Closet in High Street Hall room 33 on May 22, 2024, in Bellingham, Wash. // Photo by Mars Wetzbarger

The grant was worth $5,000, and the initial startup cost was about $1,000 for clothing racks, storage and hangers. Part of the remaining grant money has been used to stock supplies in the basic needs department. This includes new socks, underwear and bras in the VU WHOLE food pantry

“Every couple of weeks we'll resupply with new products and every time we come in, it's empty,” Schrader said.

In their initial budget they allocated money to fill gaps in gendered clothing or sizing, but it hasn’t been necessary with the amount and consistency of donations. 

The closet’s first donations came from Schrader and Dietzman’s closets as well as from their friends. One donator was Cole Burk, a student ambassador for SEI, and someone who has made use of the community closet. Burk helped to provide an array of multi-gendered clothing.

“Both from a donation perspective and a consumer perspective, utilizing a service like this just meets a lot more accessibility needs for students in the area,” Burk said.


Full closet view with racks on all sides of the walls. Shoes, shirts, pants and more in the Western Worn Community Closet on May 22, 2024, in Bellingham, Wash. // Photo by Mars Wetzbarger

In order to get more sizes, the community closet receives clothes from the Career Closet that don’t fit into its professional clothing standards. Western's Career Closet provides free business attire to students and alumni.

Stephanie Lauritzen, Director of Field Experience at Eastern Washington University, was one of the founders of the career closet at Eastern. With an emphasis on clothing for students who teach, its goal was to support students who don’t have access to professional clothing.

“Student teaching is a full-time job, only you don't get paid for it. And so the design was, ‘how can we find ways to kind of lessen the burden in other areas?’” Lauritzen said.

High Street Hall is not a building that many students utilize, according to Burk. By having the WWCC in the building, it has brought more people to the space and increased awareness of the SEI. 

“It’s the legacy that we've left at Western and I feel confident in the fact that we've gotten enough awareness toward the closet,” Schrader said.

Mars Wetzbarger

Mars Wetzbarger (they/them) is a campus life reporter for The Front. They are in their third year at Western, majoring in Environmental Journalism. In their free time you can find them climbing rocks and playing with their cat. You can contact them at

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