Brandywine junior creates BH Clothing Circle for the Girl Scout Gold Award project
Wanting to find a lasting solution to the financial burdens caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Brandywine Heights High School junior Tatyana Ulman created the Brandywine Heights Clothing Circle.
“I hope to provide clothing to people in need in my community and help the environment through the reuse of materials,” Tatyana said.
As part of their ongoing community clothing drive, better known as BH Clothing Circle, Tatyana and her team of volunteers collect clothing donations and then redistribute them into the community at clothing distribution events held in the school cafeteria.
“I didn’t expect the BH Clothing Circle to have such a big impact,” Tatyana said. “I’ve seen people come to events and leave with several large bags of clothing.”
In its most successful collection, BH Clothing Circle collected 177 bags of clothing. During the group’s most successful distribution, 48 families came to pick up clothes.
Inspired by a Girl Scout project
The BH Clothing Circle is part of Tatyana’s Girl Scout Gold Award project.
In Girl Scouts, her goal was to earn bronze, silver, and gold medals. Tatyana won the Bronze Award with Girl Scout Troop 1569 when she finished elementary school and her Silver Award in 2019 when she started a tutoring program at Brandywine Heights Middle School.
For her Gold Award, Tatyana had to find a problem in her community and create a lasting solution that would require more than 80 hours of work.
“I had thought about the financial burdens that COVID had caused and looked for a solution. I first thought about providing food, but that would require spending an excessive amount of money that was not in my budget,” she said.
“Then I thought of a clothing drive, where people could donate clothes they no longer wanted and acquire ‘new’ clothes, which would help ease the financial burden of buying clothes. .”
The circle could continue without donors needing to spend money on donation items, she explained.
“The project would also have a positive impact on the environment through the reuse of clothing and footwear,” she said. “So I started the Brandywine Heights Clothing Circle.”
BH Clothing Circle began in June 2021, when Tatyana and her team began painting a cabinet that would be used to store clothes that students would take during the school day. The first clothing collection took place on August 14 of that year, with the first distribution on August 28.
“Not many people came to the first distribution, but the number of participants increased considerably,” Tatyana said.
A team of students help sort clothes after school and attend events. Students who also help earn community service hours needed for graduation. His brother Eli runs the website, makes flyers and creates other advertisements.
“Brandywine Heights High School Principal Matthew Dziunycz was extremely helpful in coordinating the building’s availability for events and providing space to store clothes,” Tatyana said. “He and Brandywine Heights Middle School Dean of Students Antonio Riggins are volunteering their time to alternately oversee clothing events. This enormous effort would not have been possible without all these people and the support of my parents.
Tatyana hopes the BH Clothing Circle will continue next school year with the high school’s National Honor Society supporting the project.
“I and many of my volunteers will most likely be in this group and continue our roles.”
Donation and giveaway events
Clothing drives typically take place every two months and clothing giveaways monthly, all in the high school cafeteria between 10 a.m. and noon. Tatyana announces the events with flyers at local businesses, posts on the Topton Residents community Facebook page, at school, and on Topton’s automated sign outside the borough office.
During events, BH Clothing Circle team members drive to donor cars to pick up their clothing. All clothing, including shoes and accessories, is stored in a garage outside the school. Next, the team sorts the after-school donations for distribution. On the day of the distribution, the team arrives at the school at 7am to arrange all the clothes by type and size in the school cafeteria.
“Everything is free and everyone can take clothes,” Tatyana said. “We usually have infant sizes at 3x. The BH Clothing Closet also holds clothes and shoes and is located in the high school library for students to carry clothes throughout the school day.”
The BH Clothing Circle held a dual event to collect and distribute clothing on March 19, collecting prom outfits and giving out free clothing in a variety of sizes.
The BH Clothing Circle free prom outfit! The March 26 event from 10 a.m. to noon in the high school cafeteria includes lots of prom and formal dresses as well as shoes and even a wedding dress, all for free.
“The community can help by donating clothes and picking up clothes. I tell people that even if they don’t need clothes, they should come and have a fun morning saving money because we have a LOT of clothes to donate,” Tatyana said.
Dates for upcoming events, which are yet to be determined, will be posted on the BH Clothing Circle website at www.tinyurl.com/clothingcirclebh.