Providing A Sparkle Of Clothes
We have something called “family resource center” at our local middle and high school (not so sure for all the elementary schools in the area) and they come equipped with a nurse/physician for kids who become ill during the day or do not have a doctor to regularly visit, along with a staff member who acts as a guidance counselor and helps with all problems including financial ((we had to rent calculators for $75 a year, plus they covered costs for some students caps and gowns and lab fees, art fees, students fees ect)) and a closet type office room that offered clothes, shoes, prom dresses, belts, jackets, ties, and a long list of school supplies. Luckily our schools also offered school based therapy from local centerstone offices, and lots of other stuff to help students who were going through rough times or just needed a helping hand.
The teacher purchased a set of clothing for the little boy and every morning she met the child at the front door of the school. She would take him down to the restroom, give him a bath, and the clean set of clothing she had bought. The child was so appreciative and looked forward everyday to his bath and clean clothes.
At the end of the day he changed back into the clothing he had worn to school. The teacher took the clothing he had worn all day in school, laundered them, and brought them to school clean for the little boy to wear each day. The other children accepted him and he was a happier boy and did well in his classes. His teacher was an older grandmotherly type person and the little boy loved his teacher’s kindness.
The needs are greater than most people will ever know. While a paraeducator in the public school system, I made available items, especially outer wear during the cold weather. I had a couple of desk drawers full of gloves and mittens, scarfs and hats; and socks. In the trunk of my car, I stocked school supplies and book bags. As needed, I bought tops and bottoms, shoes; even under clothing, and gym wear and found space in a closet in a classroom I worked in or at home til I needed to bring it to school.
I have provided prom wear (dresses, shoes/purse, accessories; made possible hair and nails got done; and provided suits, shirt and shoes, which of course, was all done discreetly. I offered support after graduation; and with permission from parents, I took young people to youth gatherings.
I paid for students to attend class trips, and even had the opportunity to meet parents who had a need, providing them with support, ie; groceries, transportation, advocacy, encouragement, etc. I still have contacts with some of my former students and their moms. Before retiring from CPS, a student I didn’t recognize visited one of the schools where she had attended several years prior, sought me out, and after stirring my memory as to who she was, thanked me for being the sunshine that helped make the difference in her life.