Two teachers created a closet of hygiene items to help out their low-income students.
“Kids need to know that you love them and care for them and are willing to help them in any way possible,” one of the teachers, Heather Malick, stated. “You know, I want them to succeed academically, but I want them to succeed in the world as well.”
Malick and Vanessa Bateman both teach kindergarten, but their school has students through eighth grade. They said their school in Tennessee serves low-income students and teachers have reached into their own pockets to help out.
The teachers decided to create a more permanent solution after Bateman’s student came in wearing large hand-me-downs and Malick turned her own children’s clothes to help. They approached leadership in the school and turned an old locker room into a “comfort closet.” For two months, the women collected donations from families, businesses, and community members. Now, 10 or more students a week visit the closet to discreetly get items they need.
Next up, the teachers want to partner with a local food program and send bags of hygiene items home to families each month.
“You never know what’s going on with kids at home,” said Bateman. “They may be fine one day and then, you know, their parents can’t do something else the next day. So, we can’t do what we need to do in the classroom if they’re worried about everything else that’s going on at home.”