Palm Beach State College has received a $45,000 donation from the Bank of America Charitable Foundation to support Panther’s Closet and Panther’s Pantry, two initiatives to help students.
The gift was presented recently at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for Panther’s Closet, a thrift store that opened in March in a refurbished classroom on the Lake Worth campus. Students in the Dr. Floyd F. Koch Honors College run Panther’s Closet as part of a one-credit-hour service-learning course offered each semester. The store sells new and gently used clothes, shoes and accessories for $1, and the college uses the money toward student needs.
Bank of America supports the college on other initiatives, but Fabiola Brumley, Bank of America Palm Beach County president and Southeast region executive, said she was drawn to the Panther’s Closet project because of the support it received from the district board of trustees and the student involvement. In the process, she also learned of the Panther’s Pantry project, launched in 2015 by the College-Wide Counseling Center, and included support for it as well.
“The idea of having a student-led initiative made me say, ‘We’ve got to find a way,’” she said. “As your neighbor, your friend, your community partners, we’re so proud to be here.”
PBSC Trustee Wendy Link proposed the idea for the Panther’s Closet to college leaders more than a year ago after returning from an Association of Community Colleges Trustees conference. She is pleased that it gained support from the college. “This is something we are proud of because it’s first class, and it shows how important this is to us,” she said.
PBSC President Ava L. Parker said the project, which also received a donation of materials from HPS Schönox, Tandus Centiva and Commercial Flooring Distributors to refurbish the classroom, further illustrates the heart of the college. “We understand the importance of giving back,” she said. “We understand that we are better not just because of what we do for ourselves, but what we do for others. I’m so proud to lead an institution that has that at its core.”
Panther’s Closet is open to all current students. Marcella Montesinos, manager of the Honors College, oversees the Panther’s Closet project, and said it has been well received by shoppers and those enrolled in the service-learning class.
She said the students get the experience of running a business, as well as other skills to help them in their educational and career endeavors. “They learn teamwork, leadership and communication,” Montesinos said. “It’s a teachable moment every time they’re inside Panther’s Closet.”
For more information about Panther’s Closet, visit www.palmbeachstate.edu/panthers-closet.