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Suit Yourself Event helps students dress for success

By Angelia Pho

CCC Journalism Program

CAMDEN – Camden County College’s Camden campus hosted the 12th Annual Suit Yourself Event. The event’s contribution drive ran from Feb. 10 to April 1, while students could choose free business-appropriate attire from April 5 to 15.

Business-appropriate clothing is displayed in the Camden campus food pantry. By Angelia Pho, CCC Journalism Program

CCC students could visit the food pantry room and shop for free clothing and accessories that were donated by members of the college community and filled racks and shelves. Students could choose from a selection of women’s and men’s business-appropriate clothing options, spanning from dress pants to high heels.

“People are really in need and people’s lives are affected by the pandemic. And now, this inflation is making things worse,” said Stephanie Buchanan, food pantry coordinator. “I lost my job in October and didn’t have any nice clothes to wear. I realized this is such a good thing when you need to go to a job interview and you don’t exactly have nice stuff to wear. So I think this is great.”

More than a thousand items were donated, including some from last year. As specified on flyers posted on campus, the items had to be clean and on hangers to ensure that they were in good condition.

“I found that you know a lot of people had outgrown items and maybe clothes that they just bought didn’t fit anymore or were never worn. That kind of donation is good. This way we can pass it along to the students, so they don’t spend money,” said Jacqueline Beamen, English Department chair and Suit Yourself Event organizer.

However, the number of students who came to choose clothing on the two days originally planned for doing so did not meet Beamen’s expectations, so she extended the event to two weeks to attract more students. A total of about 30 students visited to choose clothing, Beamen said. By locating the Suit Yourself Event in the food pantry, students could come in for food while shopping for clothes.

Beamen recalled that when she worked at a firm in Center City Philadelphia, her employer donated to the Dress for Success initiative that was hosted in Philadelphia every year. “When I came to Camden County as a student, I remember not having clothes for interviews. I had to buy things and didn’t have any money to buy clothes,” Beamen said. “I just thought I would extend that idea of getting donations of nice clothing for people to wear if they need it. This way they wouldn’t have to buy something or they could wear something nice for their first day.”

Students who attended the Suit Yourself Event did not respond to requests for interviews.

Professor Jacqueline Beamen works in her office on the Blackwood campus. By Angelia Pho, CCC Journalism Program
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