Imperial Valley Press

SDSU Imperial Valley alumna opens wardrobe closet for students and community


When San Diego State University (SDSU) Imperial Valley alumna Hortencia Armendariz saw a small unoccupied closet at Mains Elementary School in Calexico, she saw an opportunit­y to fulfill her mission to give back to her community.

Armendariz discovered her passion to teach and work with K-12 students when she was pursuing a bachelor’s degree in liberal studies. An educator at heart, Armendariz began teaching and later became the first female vice principal at Blanche Charles Elementary School.

“Attending SDSU Imperial Valley exposed me to so much hands-on experience and as a first generation college graduate, it changes my own perspectiv­e into my profession­al career,” said Armendariz. “The key goal that I have and that I advise my students to do is to always give back to your community who helped you stand on your own two feet.”

In the early 2000s, Armendariz was permitted to fill the unused or unutilized closet at Mains Elementary School with school uniforms for K-12 students who did not have the funds to buy new school attire.

Armendariz’s advocacy for students’ well-being grew as she later became the coordinato­r for Family Resource Center in Calexico. The wardrobe project continued for years until the COVID-19 pandemic hit and schools were temporaril­y shut down.

For a brief time, the closet closed down as well. But an opportunit­y to move the wardrobe from Mains Elementary School to a full-size trailer at the Family Resource Center opened up after she received a big clothing donation from a local apparel store when it closed in 2020.

“Our team did not imagine the wardrobe closet was going to grow so much, especially since everything was shut down and we had no students on our campus to come in and take advantage of this resource,” said Armendariz.

From casual to profession­al attire, the new wardrobe opened again in 2021 to community members and local K-12 and college students who may not have the financial means to buy new clothing.

“There’s an invisible barrier when it comes to asking for help or support,” said Armendariz. “We do not ask questions about someone’s situation and we understand that it’s not always easy to reach out to someone. It’s embedded in our community and culture to always help out your neighbor. Clothes are not what makes you, but if it’s something that’s going to boost your confidence to apply for a job or go to school comfortabl­y, then it’s all worth it.”

The Family Resource Center accepts donations from community members and is open from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily at 604 W. Birch Street in Calexico.

 ?? COURTESY PHOTO ?? Hortencia Armendariz.
COURTESY PHOTO Hortencia Armendariz.

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