Schools getting involved with their student’s lifestyle can impact them greatly. many studies have shown that when the basic needs of students are being met, they are more likely to excel academically. Providing everyday necessities for students that can not afford or get those products would be useful and benefit the child’s family as well.
Recently at Morristown High School, the volunteers organizing what is being called the “Colonial Closet” have been working hard to ensure that all students have access to the basic necessities. Everyday hygiene products are provided, such as body wash, shampoo and conditioner, deodorant, feminine products like sanitary napkins, used clothing, underwear and bras, and makeup. Non-perishable food such as milk, fruit, and rice are also supplied because since some students might be renting a room or their family can’t afford enough food.
Michele Lombardi, a social worker at the school, has worked there for several years and was the person who came up with the idea of the Colonial Closet at MHS. It is located on the third floor, through a door at the back of room 319.
Lombardi reports that one day, a student she knew was struggling to help his family. She provided the student a pair of new sneakers a teacher had given her because they did not fit her husband. When she was walking with the sneakers she saw Mr. Manning, the principal at MHS. He asked her what she was doing with the sneakers. She explained to him the idea of having a closet providing everyday products for those who need in, a model similar to the Goodwill.
Lombardi said, “Although we live in a very wealthy area in New Jersey, there’s still a great deal of need here.” Many families in Morristown are doing well economically, but there are still some who do not gain as much money even with two jobs.” She stated that roughly one-third of the entire Morristown school district are on free or reduced lunch.
In the middle of 2015 the last week before the holidays, Mr. Manning gave her space on the third floor of the closet. It started in January 2016 and regularly provides assistance to dozens of students. Many students have heard about the closet in the last few couple months, as its popularity grows. Lombardi shared that spreading the word has been difficult since talking to others about being in need is sometimes hard or uncomfortable.
In an effort to reach more students, Ms. Lombardi has partnered up with the Home and School Association. The closet is always accepting donations, especially toiletries, non-perishable foods, boys’ gym shorts, new socks and underwear, bras, and laundry detergent.
For a complete list of items, visit the Home and School Association’s page.