Bakersfield, California 2021-01-13 00:37:00 –
When social worker Natasha Martinez started working at East Bakersfield High School last year, the need for a hygiene closet seemed urgent. Schools have many homeless and unaccompanied students, and sometimes bureaucratic formalism to get supplies to them quickly can be frustrating.
Donations were an easy way to meet your needs directly and the student was able to have the space she envisioned.
“I felt I needed a stockpile,” she said. “We need a complete closet where our kids can come in and bring what they need. That’s the beginning.”
And in this way, the blade closet was born. Martinez himself was a graduate of East Bakersfield who was able to use the closet as a student, so he had a strong idea of what the students needed.
The first donations were toothbrushes and toothpaste from the dentist’s office, but they now include a variety of toiletries and clothing. Demand never stopped. Requests from teachers and counselors continued to be received not only mainly for homeless students but also for students in struggling families.
But this was all December 2019, just a few months before the pandemic, where a physical closet that allowed students to “shop” for their needs was a realistic possibility. Now everything is difficult.
Martinez unloads supplies directly during student visits, wherever they are. It can also be difficult to receive donations due to socially distant booking times.
However, the need for it is increasing. She said this year’s East Bakersfield has one-third more homeless families than last year. And that’s because she knows — students don’t always share what’s happening in their lives.
“The homeless just get your attention,” she said.
The Blade Closet wasn’t on the radar of the East High School Booster Club until President Linda Whipple received a check from Wonderful Giving in November this year. After the club knew it, they asked what they could do more.
Whipple called for donations and they joined from everywhere. Graduates from the 1955 class to recent graduates heard the call. There were locals and graduates from Oregon and Maryland. According to Whipple, the 1958 class was particularly helpful. Former Chicago Cubs player and graduate Billy Cowan made a large donation. So did Jeff and Karen Roney, who own the Pacific Transport Refrigeration. We also donated Tim Lemucchi’s law firm and the Dolores Huerta Foundation.
“I mean this favorably, but it was overwhelming,” Whipple said.
She had a friend who made a blanket to put in a hygiene kit that Martinez puts together for her family. For students moving from home to home without a bed, one donor lowered five air mattresses at a time.
Some donors said booster clubs could meet the needs of larger families because they didn’t have the money to donate. One student’s family had a newborn baby, but the baby had nothing. The club was able to buy strollers and child seats.
“We didn’t know that the need was so great,” Whipple said. “We will help her and keep it going all year long.”
Leo Holland, principal of East Bakersfield, said he wasn’t surprised that the school community had come together in a difficult time. He and his wife are both graduates, his children are blades, and he understands how all graduates have a strong family consciousness. And he said that family sensations aren’t just for sports and easy time.
“When you have difficulty, you find a way to step up and help them,” he said.
East High community steps up to stock ‘Blade Closet’ for needy students | News Source link East High community steps up to stock ‘Blade Closet’ for needy students | News