Tracee Emery said she felt close to tears when she looked at the empty bins and shelves of clothing at the USD 383 FIT Closet.

As the winter months start creeping in, several of the hundreds of families who use the Manhattan-Ogden school district’s free clothing and personal supply closet had picked up much of the closet’s existing stock of winterwear and hygiene items.

“I believe that lots of our families came in to shop for winter clothes and simply depleted our winter supply,” said Emery, the program’s coordinator. “I don’t know how true this might be, but sometimes it’s not easy to see the need if you don’t have the need, and donations also had dropped off quite a bit over the last few months.”

Emery said that in her four years volunteering at the FIT Closet and as program coordinator for the past 17 months, she had never seen the closet so empty, so she put out a plea for donations on social media.

The response was overwhelming. Since Wednesday evening, Emery’s Facebook post was shared hundreds of times and seen by thousands of people. More than 50 people donated items Thursday, and a mountain of clothes and boxes of Amazon Wishlist items awaited volunteers Friday morning. Emery said people in Alabama have sent in items, and others in Oklahoma were sending checks.

In any case, Emery said the closet still needs items for the winter months.

“Right now, we’re trying to go through the flood of donations,” Emery said. “The need will continue, and we need children’s winter clothes. We do take used clothes in excellent condition, and we’re looking particularly for children’s winter shoes, and things you would be warm in walking to school.”

Emery said the closet is focused on winter clothing and personal hygiene items right now, but people with spring or summer clothing should hold onto those items and donate them closer to those seasons, as the closet has limited space.

The closet and its free supplies are open to families who have a child in the school district and meet free or reduced lunch income eligibility. Closet hours for shoppers and donors are 9 a.m. to noon Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, with additional hours 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday and 3 to 5:30 p.m. Thursday. More information is available at fitcloset.org and the organization’s Facebook page.

MATC named

a top US

community college

Manhattan Area Technical College has been named one of the nation’s top 150 community colleges.

The nonpartisan Aspen Institute College Excellence Program picked MATC based on the college’s strong and improving student outcomes. MATC is now eligible to compete for the institute’s 2021 Aspen Prize, a $1 million award given to just a few colleges each year to recognize high achievement and performance. Ten finalists for that award will be announced in May.

MATC president Jim Genandt said being named one of the top 150 colleges was a testament to the dedication and passion of the institution’s faculty and staff.

“Manhattan should be very proud of MATC and the constant return on investment connected to workforce education and economic development produced through the College,” Genandt said, “and we want to thank the many regional employers and community leaders for their advocacy for technical education and MATC.”

Tracz presented with honorary

doctorate

K-State director of bands and professor of music Frank Tracz received an honorary doctorate from Doane University at the wind ensemble concert on Oct. 23.

Tracz, who has traveled across the world as a clinician and speaker, has regularly worked with Doane University in Crete, Nebraska, over the past 27 years, including as the university’s artist-in-residence in 2014. He also has worked with dozens of Nebraska high schools and conducted the Nebraska All-State Band and the Nebraska Intercollegiate Band.

Several Doane representatives were in attendance at the concert to present the award to Tracz, including Eugene Klingler, emeritus Doane University Board trustee and a former Manhattan mayor.

Donations, grants

The Manhattan-Ogden school board accepted $42,549.84 in donations and grants at its Wednesday meeting.

Manhattan Town Center donated $600 to Marlatt Elementary for school use.

Pi Beta Phi donated $500 to Marlatt for books that students will be able to keep.

Riley County Raising Riley granted $12,040 to College Hill Early Learning Center for reduced fees for families and donated $4,000 to Eugene Field Early Learning Center for behavioral and mental health personnel.

The Woodrow Wilson Elementary PTO donated $804.14 to the school for class fields trips.

The Ogden Friendship House United Methodist Church donated $500 to Ogden Elementary for school use.

The Lee Elementary PTO donated $9,209.70 to the school for the purchase of 30 iPads and covers.

Keystone Learning Services donated $2,250 to the district for the MTS Symposium.

The Amanda Arnold Elementary PTO donated $3,929 to the school for technology supplies.

Manhattan Cross Country Club donated $1,131 to Lee Elementary, $1,006 to Marlatt Elementary, $806 to Frank Bergman Elementary, $756 each to Woodrow Wilson and Theodore Roosevelt elementaries, $656 to Bluemont Elementary and $606 to Northview Elementary.