ROTC Community Building Clothing Drive


Adeline Ong

ROTC clothing donation drive box.

Seattle University’s Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) program trains cadets to become Second Lieutenants in the Army, Army National Guard or Army Reserve after graduation. While their daily schedules are demanding, involving physical training and mandatory military science classes, they still make time for community outreach. From Nov. 7-18, Seattle U’s ROTC held their annual clothing drive with the proceeds being donated to St. James Cathedral

“It’s completely student-run. They do all of the planning. They do all of the preparation. We’re just here to give them guidance and mentorship,” Brianna Maier, professor of military science, said.

This year marks the third annual donation drive. Initially, ROTC collected hygiene items. The following year, they distributed clothing and emergency survival kits. Over the years, they found that clothing is most important to people, especially during the colder months. To best serve local Seattle communities, ROTC decided to make the event solely a clothing drive. 

Director of Social Outreach and Advocacy at St. James Cathedral Patrick Barredo was appreciative of the push for warm gear.

“[Clothing] is especially needed as the temperature drops and as more precipitation comes down,” Barredo said. “People on the streets don’t have a lot of resources or places where they can store clean or dry clothing. Anything that they’re able to receive that helps them to survive the elements is very much appreciated.” 

From Monday to Friday, the volunteer-staffed Cathedral Kitchen serves dinner to anyone who wants to attend. The majority of their guests are people without housing and people who are in low-income living situations. 

“We welcome everyone here to the Cathedral, and for those who come with burdens that they carry, the Cathedral tries as best as possible to be a companion,” Barredo said.

A group of ROTC volunteers distributed the clothing they had collected during a meal at St. James Cathedral Nov. 22. Third-year Nursing student and ROTC Cadet Jaiden Childs spearheaded the event. She was enthusiastic about this year’s number of donations and is already looking forward to next year’s drive.

“This is the connection that we’re going to have for as long as they are still serving people [at St. James],” Childs said.

Barredo echoed the sentiment.

“The kitchen guests look forward to it because it is not just the clothing and other donated items,” Barredo said. “More than anything else, it’s the sense that there are people in the community who care for them.”

Planning and realizing charitable events are just some of the aspects of Seattle U ROTC’s work. As students enter the program, they take prescribed classes each year that build upon each other and prepare them for military service. For the first two years, cadets take military science classes, learning about the foundation of the army, army terminology and leadership tactics. The following year, classes are more tactical. Cadets complete rigorous training in Advanced Camp during the summer after their third year, and spend their fourth year in the program in primarily leadership-based classes.

“Everything is about leadership. It’s about decision-making. It’s about ethics, morals, values, character, everything that we would expect of a professional,” Maier said.

Outside of classes, ROTC students participate in physical training three times a week. During their training sessions, cadets work as a group. Physical training encompasses everything from weight workouts to road marches. 

Exterior of the Seattle U ROTC office. / Adeline Ong.

“We are family, and the community that we have is so uplifting and encouraging,” Childs said.

The traditional path as a cadet in ROTC is to enter the program after graduating from high school and spend four years taking classes and honing their skills. However, students up to their academic junior year can join. Seattle U ROTC also offers scholarships for graduate students. After graduation, cadets serve in the U.S. Army. Accepting an ROTC scholarship includes an obligation of four years of service and four years of serving in the Individual Ready Reserve after contracting. 

After the clothing drive, the Seattle U ROTC program is planning a Ruck’Othon to raise donations for their program. Childs and other ROTC members are excited to build upon the existing partnership with St. James Cathedral, continuing to serve the community while simultaneously preparing for a career in the military.