Thanks to a $5,300 Atlantic Sunshine grant from Williams, the Classroom Care Closet at the Tunkhannock Area Middle School is now really housed in a closet.
Established by guidance counselor Kate Krispin, the Classroom Closet provides such items as clothing, coats, shoes and other necessities to students who need them.
Krispin said a high school clothes closet inspired her three years ago. But one thing hampering the operation was lack of space to display the items.
“We were storing the clothes in various classrooms,” Krispin explained. “And students had to go through boxes to look at them.
This changed this past summer when a room dedicated to the Classroom Closet was established.
Krispin said that TAMS Principal Sue Bugno was instrumental in obtaining the room necessary to set up the closet.
Bugno in turn explained that it was Krispin who applied for the grant from Williams.
With the grant money, Krispin purchased clothing racks allowing items to be easily displayed, as well as set up a changing room. A number of individual units hold such items as shoes, socks, and deodorant.
“We have about 1,000 toothbrushes,” Krispin explained.
The set up at the Classroom Closet allows students to easily look at the clothes and try them on.
“I’ve had students tell me they wish their own rooms were as nice,” Krispin said.
The Classroom Closet receives ‘gently used’ clothing from a variety of sources. There’s no financial criteria or forms to fill out - a student merely comes in with Krispin or another teacher and makes a selection.
“A teacher will notice that a student is without a coat, or holes in his shoes. Often the student is too embarrassed to say anything, so they’re brought here to choose things they need.”
Procter & Gamble has donated deodorant and hygiene packets to the clothes closet, Krispin said, and Alexrad which does contract printing in Wilkes-Barre has donated backpacks and t-shirts.
Special Education teacher Mary Beatty has provided a large number of items, including Christmas gifts, backpacks, and clothing as well.
The PTO recently donated color run t-shirts.
“All the teachers are really helpful,” Bugno explained. “They donate a lot of the children’s clothing.”
The Classroom Closet also provided clothing - particularly coats - at the Children’s Produce Market, which is held at the middle school as well as Roslund Elementary School.
“We go through coats like crazy,” Krispin said. “A lot of the kids will try them on right there and keep wearing them - they’re so happy to get them.”
About 10 eighth grade students help Krispin run the clothes closet on a regular basis. In addition, the Life Skills students are instrumental in washing and preparing the clothes for display.
“I just want to help out,” said Rhiannon Burns, 14. “I like working with Mrs. Krispin and I enjoying being with her.”
“I just want to help out the school,” explained Jessie Kovalick, 13.
“Sometimes it’s hard,” said Evan Skovronsky, 13. “You have to carry up the boxes and bags of clothing, and sort them by age and size.”
“We’re almost like a family,” explained Kaitlyn Mcintyre, 14. “I like being able to give back to those who need it.”
“It’s fun,” explained Ariana Vanartsdalen, 11, who helps wash the clothing. “I like to do it.”
“Our ultimate goal here it to provide the community with more support,” Krispin explained.
She said they want to get the word out and is hoping that folks will stop by during the next parent-teacher conference at the middle school on Thursday, Oct. 12.