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Community Generosity Fills The Business Closet

CMU receives outpouring of support for student-run initiative

When CMU student and Accounting Club President LeighAnn Norton realized that so many students declined to attend the annual Meet the Firms networking event with local business leaders — just because they didn’t have the right attire — she decided to do something about it. She knew of an organization elsewhere that raised money to purchase one brand new outfit per student and decided to create a similar initiative with a twist. Passionate about environmental sustainability and not wanting to limit the number of outfits per student, Norton envisioned a system to collect and distribute second-hand clothing and went in search of staff advisors, fellow students and community partners to make it happen.


Director of Career Services Sadye Saad and COSI Admissions & Advising Coach Stephanie Parsons led Norton and fellow business student Olivia Pulford through the process of organizing a student committee, budgeting and courting sponsors. The initiative, which was named The Business Closet, received an outpouring of support from community partners and CMU stakeholders in its first three months and is steadily building momentum as the official launch date approaches.

Over 200 pieces of clothing were donated by Heirlooms for Hospice, Mor Storage Sales, CMU Trustee Kasia Iwaniczko MacLeod and CMU Trustee Amy Lentz, while $9,000 in sponsorships have been donated by Cigna, Timberline Bank and Dalby, Wendland & Co., P.C.

Signage on each clothing rack will proudly display founding sponsors’ logos as well as QR codes leading to helpful student resources like resume and cover letter tutorials, and mock interview scheduling with Career Services.

"I applaud The Business Closet that CMU has developed. First impressions are critical in building relationships in our business. So, providing not only our employee-interns but the community of business professionals with the opportunity to dress for success has such a positive impact,” said Chris West, CEO of Dalby, Wendland & Co., P.C.

The committee plans to expand this initiative to include all kinds of industry-specific clothing for the jobs CMU and WCCC train students to do, and will set up multiple racks on both campuses.

“We are so excited to see this vision come to life and make professional clothing readily available to all students. Timberline Bank is grateful to be able to support our local students and reinvest in their futures,” said Hannah Ellis, Timberline Bank marketing specialist.

The Palisade, Grand Junction, Fruita and Western Colorado Latino Chambers of Commerce will kickoff the official launch of The Business Closet September 1 at 9am with a ribbon cutting ceremony at the Davis School of Business. The Maverick Job Fair will follow immediately on The Plaza from 10am-2pm and racks of clothing will be available for students to browse and try on at the Career Services booth. This is also the The Business Closet’s first official clothing drive and community members are encouraged to bring gently-used office 


attire and accessories to donate. A curbside “fill the rack” station will be set up near the Rugby Pitch for convenient drive up donations.

“To our founding sponsors of The Business Closet — Cigna, Timberline Bank, and Dalby, Wendland & Co, P.C. — thank you for your contribution to our vision and thank you for showing me what it means to be a part of a community,” said CMU student Olivia Pulford, who is on the committee.

Palisade Chamber of Commerce, Grand Junction Chamber of Commerce, and Fruita Area Chamber of Commerce have all agreed to serve as a drop off location for donations on September 1.


Written by Hannah Odneal