COLUMBIA FALLS — Columbia Falls High School has already established a free clothing rack for students who are in need.
However, juniors Lakia Hill, Taylor Weaver and Ellexa Hofeldt noticed the existing clothing rack didn't have as many options as kids would like.
So, the girls started the Cat Rack, and Hill said she wants the Cat Rack to have fun, cute clothes that kids are excited to wear.
"It's free clothes for kids that want it or need it and that's essentially the biggest part of our project," said Hill.
Hofeldt said that she hopes the Cat Rack can destigmatize the process of asking for help.
"We wanted to offer it as a way for people to not feel like 'hey you need this, I'm going to help you out,' but more of 'hey come hang out with us, have fun, we're going to go shopping'. You know? So, that it's not -- because I know that there's sometimes that stigma around it," explained Hofeldt.
Weaver said that high school is an especially challenging time for students not to have access to clothing.
"I honestly, I would kinda feel embarrassed, like I would kinda feel like people were like looking at me and talking about me behind my back. I just wouldn't feel great about it," said Weaver.
Columbia Falls Student and Family Advocate and Homeless liaison Tamara Sundberg is working with Hill, Weaver and Hofeldt on the Cat Rack project.
"Students, especially at the high school level are really open if they are struggling. A lot of times they will come to a counselor, they'll come to a teacher and they'll ask for support," Sundberg said. "So, that's one of the ways. But we do have a referral service as far as teachers coming to us."
The leaders of the Cat Rack organize, donate and clean all the clothing in their free time and don't do the project for school credit.
Hill said the project has been rewarding.
"In high school you don't know everyone and you don't know their story. But like, if you know you're helping and you know you're doing the right thing and even if it impacts a person or not, it feels good to help," said Hill.
The Cat Rack hopes to officially register as a 501 C 3 and wants to feature prom dresses and snow pants and boots for the upcoming winter and spring seasons.