For several minutes, Lisa Ray didn’t recognize the well-dressed young man who was helping to load piles of impeccably folded and wrapped shirts, pants and sweaters into her car.
In fact, she mentioned to his father, he looked just like a movie star.
That’s when the young man decided to introduce himself.
“He looks at me and says, “Hey, I’m Zac Efron,” Ray recalled last week. “And I screamed. I’m screaming like I’m a 13-year-old girl.”
Ray is president and CEO of the Children’s Resource Network of the Central Coast — formerly known as Lisa Ray’s Donation Group — a homegrown nonprofit that she founded about two and a half years ago on a shoestring budget.
During that time, Ray’s organization has gone from helping one single mom’s children to outfitting more than 3,500 children and teens from Lompoc to Cambria.
Efron, an Arroyo Grande High graduate who got his big break as a singing, dancing basketball player in Disney’s “High School Musical” series, learned about one of the nonprofit’s programs, The Teens Closet, and decided that’s where he wanted to donate his clothing, Ray said.
The program allows disadvantaged and homeless teens or their parents to pick out and try on donated clothing.
Efron handed over about 300 items of clothing the day before Thanksgiving, Ray said, and even added his signature to one wall in the Teens Closet, a 12-by-40-foot portable building located on the Arroyo Grande Care Center’s property in Arroyo Grande.
Special tags will be put on Efron’s clothes so that the teens who receive them will know who previously owned them.
“His gift says a lot,” Ray added. “It’s not only the clothing. It’s having something special that other kids wouldn’t have access to. It shows them that people do care.”
Cynthia Lambert and Gayle Cuddy write the South County Beat column on alternating Wednesdays. Reach Cynthia Lambert at 781-7929. Stay updated by following @SouthCounty Beat on Twitter.