Community donations are filling out new pantries at two Boonville schools that are meant to give students access to essentials like food, hygiene products and clothes.
Non-academic issues like limited access to essentials like hygiene products and clothes can make it more difficult for students to succeed in school, said Shauna Cramer, the in-school coordinator for Hannah Cole Primary.
“The philosophy of Communities in Schools is that, if kids don’t have to worry about the basic needs, they can focus more on school,” Cramer said. “If we can help out parents and students by taking away some of that worry, then we would like to provide that.”
At Hannah Cole Primary School, students can access the Pirate Pup Pantry, where clothes, food and hygiene products are available to all students. At Laura Speed Elliott Middle School, the Pirate Closet has clothes, hygiene products and laundry machines available to students.
Boonville High School has had a similar pantry for a few years, and David Barton also has clothes available for students, Superintendent Sarah Marriott said.
The Hannah Cole pantry is a partnership with Communities in Schools of Mid-America, which Boonville received state funding to work with on a pilot program this year. The organization hired in-school coordinators for Hannah Cole and Laura Speed Elliott, who are meant to work with at-risk students and organize community support to help address student needs.
St. Matthews Missionary Society, Mothers of Preschoolers, Nelson Memorial United Methodist Church and the Boonville Rotary Club donated school supplies, hygiene items, coats and shoes.
The school is looking for more donations to fill out the pantry such as hygiene supplies, including shampoo, toothbrushes and washcloths, as well as canned goods and non-perishable foods. Gently-used clothing from sizes 4-10, clothes hangers, new socks and underwear are also needed.
Middle school-aged students who are becoming more independent don’t always want to ask for help, Green said. The closet is open and available to students when they need it, so they can help themselves, she said.
Laura Speed Ellliot is part of the Communities in Schools pilot program along with Hannah Cole, but Green said the Pirate Closet is a separate project. The middle school worked with the community group Partners in Education to open the closet at the beginning of this school year, with Stevens Appliance helping with the laundry machines and Rick Ball donating hygiene kits, she said.
The school and Partners in Education have talked about developing a formal campaign to collect donated items, like a laundry detergent drive, Green said. They’ll continue to work together to try to make the closet a better service for students, she said.
Anyone who would like to donate or has questions about what to donate can call Hannah Cole health aide Pam Hutchison at 660-882-3554. They can arrange to have their donation picked up, or to drop it off at the school, Hutchison said.
Laura Speed Elliot Middle School has been using a similar concept this year. The Pirate Closet has clothing and hygiene kits available for students, and two sets of washing machines and dryers for students who need to wash clothes, said Principal Stephanie Green.