This McMinn County teacher and a native of Knox started a project with her fellow teachers at the Niota Elementary School titled ‘Comfort Project’.
Vanessa Bateman and her colleague, the kindergarten teacher Heather Malick, formed a closet with clothes, shoes, and toiletries at their school which the pre-kindergarten through eighth grade students can use.
It’s located in the old locker room which was previously used for storage.
Amazing Way to Help the Low-Income Students
The children who want are discreetly taken to this room for “shopping” and Bateman notes how having extra clothes for all children is never a bad idea.
According to her, the Comfort Closet happened after several teachers discovered that they were buying things out-of-pocket for the children in their classes while talking to each other.
Bateman notes how they talked about the need for having things on hand. So, they sent a note to the parents and asked them for donations and it started from there.
This story of the Comfort Closet went viral after Bateman’s husband made a Reddit post about it and some national websites also shared the story.
An Amazing Act of Kindness that Helps in Times of Need
Thousands of comments appeared with some teachers sharing similar stories of filling their students’ needs for personal things, as well as people who grew up in challenging situations telling about the positive influence these acts of kindness had on them when they were kids.
And, a lot of individuals offered to help by buying things for the Comfort Closet which Bateman notes that it’s visited by 10 or more students per week in this school with around 600 students.
The school has placed a dropbox outside for donations of toiletries by the locals.
The school can also use gift cards to Walmart, Dollar General, and other stores and people can donate through the Niota Elementary School PTO.
Bateman says how they would also need a dryer to be able to do the children’s laundry-they already have a washer.
Knox County’s faith-based non-profit named SUDS 4 Students partners with middle and high schools to meet the hygiene needs of students. They collect and distribute stuff like laundry detergents, soaps, toothpastes, shampoos, deodorants, etc.
Their president, Tonya Broyles, a registered nurse, says that when families need to prioritize their basic needs, food is at the top and hygiene moves further down, sometimes even goes off the list.
What an amazing way to take care of our youngsters, don’t you agree? Do you think this is a beautiful project that other schools should also apply?