Congratulations to the MECS Staff who run the Clothes' Closet at the Middle/High School! The Clothes' Closet is being recognized by The Genesis Group, a civic and community organization dedicated to adaptive leadership to meet new challenges and to create positive and transformational impact in the Mohawk Valley region. Members of our faculty and staff will be presented with an award by The Genesis Group, on Thursday, November 17th. Below is information that was presented on their nomination for this award:
At Morrisville-Eaton Middle/High School, a group of teachers opened a Clothes’ Closet for students in need. The Morrisville-Eaton Student Council - consisting of approximately 20 students each year - closely works with a core group of educators to support the programs goals of breaking down barriers and eliminating stigma associated with poverty.
The Clothes’ Closet is a school-wide project for the benefit of our students. The team has hosted a boys’ Christmas party and a girls’ Christmas party for identified students over the last 10 years. The students are invited to come in and “shop” (for free) for themselves and their family for the holiday season. With donations from our school, students are able to select clothes (new and nearly new), hygiene products, and even presents they can give to family members (including gifts bags), to put right under the Christmas tree.
The Clothes’ Closet supports students that are not only financially disadvantaged, but individuals could be looking for apparel for non-financial reasons too. Students who spill food on their clothes, had an embarrassing accident, or forgot to buy shoes or shirt for a concert are just one door away from a solution. Last spring, when Morrisville-Eaton hosted an All County festival, a child from another District brought the wrong outfit. The Clothes’ Closet was available, opened, and provided the student with an outfit that matched the required uniform. For the first time, the Clothes’ Closet addressed a need of a student outside our walls.
In addition, students are able to access the Clothes’ Closet whenever it is needed. The team offers after school “open shop” days for all students – again for free. The program survives on donations from faculty, staff, and area community members. A huge donation of new winter clothes came in last year from an out-of-state donor after learning of the generosity of this project. The transformation of students and the genuine smiles that appear on their faces as they walk out of the Clothes’ Closet with new apparel truly warms the heart.
The core team of this program has expanded the Clothes’ Closet to include a food program for students. With the high cost of heating during the long winter, a food pantry opens each fall to help feed the families in our District. The food pantry is located at the high school so that our students can come after school and gather items to take home. Often, faculty will load up bags and backpacks full of food for the week-long breaks so families have items to eat over those long school vacations. The students who take those bags are so grateful to be able to help their family in some way, even if it is simply bringing home a full bag of food from school. Until a person sees the looks of appreciation on those students’ faces, it is hard to truly understand how much that food is needed at home.
For nearly ten years, the faculty/staff donors and organizers to the Clothes’ Closet has been able to supply full holiday dinners to families. Dinners include a turkey or ham, vegetables, potatoes, stuffing, gravy, dessert, milk, and more. Gift cards are also often part of the meal baskets delivered. The food basket program serves approximately 20 families for each holiday (Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas).
The leaders of the Clothes’ Closet program do most of their work discreetly and without fanfare. They secure donations in a purposeful and systematic manner. All the work associated with this service is voluntary without any renumeration in any way. These educators exemplify the qualities we all seek when looking to fill an instructional staff vacancy – most notably the value they put on intrinsic rewards.
Thanks goes out to the entire MECS team for their contributions to this amazing program. Representing the District for acceptance of the award on 11/17 are Cadi New, Lisa Lopez, Shelly Kempton, and Meaghan Palmer. Congratulations on this recognition!!