MOUNT CLEMENS, Mich. – Typical teenagers commonly prefer to spend Friday nights hanging with friends or attending school activities like football and basketball games.
De La Salle Collegiate’s Vince Motowski usually fits that description. But recently, the junior, who has been elected 2021 student council president, bucked the trend.
After learning about a volunteer opportunity with Macomb Foster Closet – on a Friday evening no less – Motowski figured he’d need to be persuasive in wrangling students to help out.
“That’s exactly what I thought,” he said.
Working with Traci Smith, De La Salle’s National Honor Society moderator, Motowski spearheaded an amazing effort, getting 16 fellow students to help sort and fold clothing for the nonprofit organization, which provides much-needed essential items for free to all children in foster care and the amazing families that care for them.
“I told Ms. Smith when I looked up February 21 and it was a Friday night, ‘We’re going to try,’ ” Motowski said. “But I set the (sign-up) papers down and told the guys they needed to do these events, and it was that easy. I thought they’d never do it, but kids just signed up for it. It was really no problem.”
Foster Closet, in Mount Clemens, is a free resource for foster and adoptive families to select new and gently used clothes, toys, bedding, diapers, wipes, and other needed supplies for free.
“Many foster families take in children at a moment's notice and they oftentimes can come with little to no belongings,” Smith said. “Foster Closets like this are a godsend so children can keep their dignity even in very tough situations and foster families have support in doing so.
“We separated clothing for their upcoming mom-to-mom sale. Any proceeds are used to purchase more supplies for foster and adoptive families in Macomb County and surrounding areas.”
Motowski and his mates spent 90 minutes sorting and folding. He was joined by seniors Andrew Rusu, Parker Kuchulan, Robby Shiner, Adam Zepp; juniors Suheum Heo, Kihun Kim, Cameron Kessler, Anthony Elias, Brady Johnson, Xavier Omozokpia, Luke Boldman, Aidan Dankanics, Anthony McCollum, Nico Praet; and sophomores Caden Koneval and Charlie Freese.
“They had boxes of clothes that they receive, and we sorted them between sizes,” Motowski said. “We sorted and folded for about an hour and a half. They get a ton of clothes; they’re not lacking in that department. So they need people going in to help. We had a good 20 people come in and fold and sort. They said it normally takes a week for them to do with their volunteers, so they were happy to have us.”
Smith, an English teacher at the all-boys school, was impressed by the students’ initiative.
“As a foster parent myself – who has personally benefited from Foster Closets – I am overjoyed to support and volunteer at this organization and expose our students to the opportunity to serve children in their own community,” she said. “They can always use more donations.”
Motowski, a dual-enrollment student taking business classes at the University of Detroit Mercy, said he plans to volunteer again at Macomb Foster Closet.
“That will probably be my service project next year, too,” he said.