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Banana Republic Gifts $100K in Merchandise to COCC

“Clothing Connection” program fills with $100k in donated apparel

An incredible gift of clothing from Bend’s Banana Republic store to Central Oregon Community College (COCC), totaling more than $100,000 in retail value and filling some 60 boxes, has turned the college’s free “Clothing Connection” service for students in need into a selection that could pack a store.

A group of volunteers from the Rotary Club of Bend-Mt. Bachelor, the official donation recipient, recently helped the college move the sizable inventory of overstock to the Bend campus for storage and eventual display. Reached for comment, Banana Republic of Bend has opted to remain a silent partner in the donation.

COCC started its free clothing program four years ago as a way to help students acquire items to best dress for job interviews, course practicums and daily life. Angie Cole, an instructor in COCC’s early childhood education program, helped initiate the service and now oversees it. “Most of the clothing is donated by faculty and community members and is collected to help students dress for interviews, worksites, field placements and school,” she explained, adding that they also make items available to those in need at both COCC’s annual career fair and its early childhood education conference.

“This, of course,” she added, “goes far beyond what we’ve ever been able to offer. It will help so many students find their path to success. We are so excited about this great resource for students.” Based at the Bend campus, the program hopes to expand to its Redmond, Madras and Prineville campuses in the future.

“We’re a proud supporter of COCC,” said John Sorlie, president of the Rotary Club of Bend-Mt. Bachelor, who helped coordinate the donation. “We are grateful that we could support the Clothing Connection at COCC, and hope it will help students with their basic needs or help launch them into new professional careers.” The group has also donated to the COCC Foundation in support of scholarships.

To help assist students in need, COCC also participates in the State of Oregon’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program’s (SNAP) Training and Employment Program, offers emergency student loans, operates a student-run food bank and serves as a 211 hotline sponsor.

Banana Republic donation