Donated clothing aims to drive away the cold

Upper School student organizes winter clothing drive for Cradles to Crayons


Alexandra Kluzak, Staff Writer

As winter descends upon Greater Boston, Natalie Rudnick ’23 does not have her mind on holiday festivities or shopping but the need for coats and pajamas to keep children across the city warm.

“New England winters are harsh,” Natalie said. “I have a jacket right here, and I put it on when I’m cold. But there are kids who just don’t have that.”

As part of her fall Season of Service this year, which included volunteering at Cradles to Crayons once a week, Natalie decided to run a drive, which she hoped would have similar success and would help many children stay warm this winter, she said. Her proposal was accepted by Season of Service Coordinator and US History Teacher Sasha Lyons, and Administrative Assistant to the Dean of Students Kerri Anne Shea and Dean of Students Rory Morton allowed the bins to be located in the entry foyer, as the dates of the drive did not overlap with any other donation efforts, Ms. Shea said.

Cyclical drives are necessary to achieve the elusive goal of clothing security for low-income children, Natalie said.

“I can’t stress the importance of donations enough,” Natalie said. “Maybe you donated five winter coats two years ago, but the same way your winter coat from two years ago doesn’t fit you, theirs doesn’t fit them either.”

Natalie set up two bins from her basement by the Fishbowl and attached a sign she had made on Canva. The drive began accepting donations of used coats—sizes children’s large through adult medium— never-worn pajamas, and other winter necessities on November 16 and will continue to do so until December 20. Every three weeks, Natalie and her family drive the donations to non- profit organization Cradles to Crayons, where volunteers quality check, organize, and distribute the clothing to children in need across the state. As of December 5, the drive had filled two trash bags with donations.

To make the student body aware of the drive and the need it addresses, Natalie made an announcement at assembly and sent a What’s Happening email. Because the drive is not mandatory, like the Thanksgiving Drive, Natalie is counting on the student body’s generosity, she said.

“I think sometimes it slips people’s mind—not giving back, but the specifics of it,” she said. “Bringing in winter coats is not the most convenient for most people.”

At 13, Natalie applied for and was accepted to the Cradles to Crayons Teen Leadership Corps, a program for teens interested in furthering Cradles to Crayons’s mission by leading volunteer efforts.

“It’s an eye-opening experience,” she said. “I haven’t had to worry about the ‘small things’ like clothing and food. But you are made very aware of the fact that there are kids in your local community who do have to. It has helped me solidify this idea of just being a good person to anyone, even people who you don’t necessarily know.”

Macy Rhie ’24, who plans to donate to the drive, said donating clothes not only keeps the children warm, but lets them know they are cared for.

“It can be hard for [underprivileged children] to feel valued, but when we give back to them, it gives them motivation to live the lives they have always wanted,” she said. “When the children feel they are cared for and deserve love, they feel they are worthy enough to do great things with their lives.”

Ms. Lyons said it is critical that the school community aid the less fortunate.

“There’s so much need in this country. So, it’s actually more important than ever to have more of these drives. We have so much as a community, so I actually think people are thrilled to help in some small way.”

Natalie said she plans on running the drive next year for a longer period of time so that she can amass more donations.