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Inaugural fashion show works to aid women

4/28/2014

By ELIZABETH GOLDEN

egolden@dailynews.net

A group of Leadership 310 students at Fort Hays State University hosted the inaugural Jana's Closet fashion show Saturday to raise awareness of what the closet has to offer.

Jana's Closet provides "gently worn" professional clothes to women as they prepare to enter or re-enter the workforce.

Jana's Closet was created in 2012 to honor Jana Mackey, who was murdered by an ex-boyfriend in 2008.

"It started after one of our members lost a lot of weight and had nice clothes to get rid of," said Anna Towns, Trinity Lutheran Church secretary who manages the closet. "Jana had been a member here. We all knew her story. Christie Brungardt, Jana's mother, was always saying Jana was looking for clothes for people who would need a nice outfit for court and stuff like that."

Mackey was a 25-year-old University of Kansas law student and an advocate for women's rights. She spent years volunteering to aid victims of sexual assault and domestic violence.

"Jana was actually my babysitter when I was younger," Towns said. "I hadn't stayed in touch as we got older. After she passed, I found out about her advocacy work, and I was extremely proud. It influences me to get involved in that."

The closet serves five to 10 women a month. Most are from domestic violence situations, but the closet also serves homeless women and students who might not have access to professional clothing.

"Not only was Jana a women's advocate," said senior Vernon King, who hosted the fashion show, "she spent a lot of time trying to get professional attire for women. Trinity Lutheran Church created Jana's Closet in memory of Jana continuing her legacy of helping women in need."

The leadership team spent the week before the fashion show hosting clothing drives in order to add to the collection in the closet.

Lizette Avalos, a junior member of the leadership team, said several bags of clothes were donated. The team was pleased with the support.

The closet is located inside Trinity Lutheran Church, 2703 Fort, and is open during normal business hours or by appointment. Anyone is welcome to borrow one to two outfits per visit.