Every year Martina Henry’s fifth-grade students in the Bronx face a heartbreaking decision when it comes to graduation: Go in their plain clothes or not go at all.

Henry is trying to change that this year by calling on the North Salem community to donate gently used graduation attire for her fifth-grade boys and girls in sizes 10/12 through adult large.

She’s put a blue bin at the top of her driveway, 11 Livery Lane, as a drop-off site.

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“The poverty level at my school is high and our fifth graders would love to look good on graduation day,” Henry said.

She’s worked at the Bronx school for nearly two decades and teaches students from all different life situations, including some in homeless shelters.

“I’ve had many students show up on graduation day in regular clothes or not come because they didn’t have anything nice to wear,” Henry said. “It’s kind of a big deal for them to get to graduation and I can’t afford to clothe my whole class.”

Specifically she’s looking for shorter party dresses for girls and button-down shirts, ties, blazers, pants and suit jackets for the boys.

“My daughters all say things like, ‘Why don’t we have this or that?’ and I said, ‘Why don’t you come to work with me?’ “ Henry said.

Though the job is not always easy; Henry teaches because the community and educators are “strong and positive” and she gets to see parents and the school community come together and overcome adverse circumstances.
Henry will collect clothes until May 11. Clothing can be dropped off at her house. For more information, email Henry at ninie21@aol.com.