BROWNSTOWN — The only thing in the Brave Place care closet right now are boxes of hand sanitizer.
Starting Wednesday, Brownstown Central High School’s Jobs for America’s Graduates will accept donations of school supplies, personal hygiene products and other items students may need during the course of a school day or at home. Monetary donations to buy needed items will be accepted, too.
A student forgets a hair tie for physical education class. Or they ate something at lunch and now need to brush their teeth. Or they walked to school and got their socks wet. These are some examples of immediate needs that could be available during the school day in the care closet.
“There’s a wide variety, and you just have to start somewhere and figure out what your student population needs,” JAG Specialist Ashley Shoemaker said.
The idea stemmed from the school-based Braves Food Pantry ending in December. Some students’ families benefited from that when it was open one night a month, but it mostly served people in community, feeding as many as 50 families.
Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana, however, decided funds weren’t available for the food pantry anymore, so the last distribution was in December.
The JAG students helped the school’s guidance department with the pantry by unloading, ordering and working, and once that went away, they wanted to come up with a way to still help students with basic needs.
“So that they could have somewhere to go if they don’t have anything,” sophomore Ana McCory said. “They can go there and they know that they have things here that they can use. Some people don’t have things at home, like toothpaste, toothbrushes and brushes for their hair.”
Since the pantry isn’t there anymore, sophomore Stormy Jolly said the care closet will be a way to give back to people.
Sophomore Madison Howard said students won’t have to go without what they need or have to steal it.
“They can just go to the Brave Place and just feel comfortable and safe knowing that they have items and stuff they might need in the school day,” she said.
McCory and Jolly came up with rules for the care closet. That includes it being open every school day and students being able to visit during passing periods, lunch or individual resource time.
Shoemaker’s classroom is across the hallway from the care closet, so she will be able to keep an eye on it.
To create awareness of the Brave Place, JAG students created a flyer listing items needed, and that recently was posted on the school’s Facebook page.
School supplies include pencils, erasers, notebooks, folders, binders, paper, pens, bookbags and headphones.
Hygiene products include feminine hygiene products, toothpaste, toothbrushes, hairbrushes, shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, hair ties, face wipes, face wash, body wash, hand soap, perfume, cologne and lotion.
Other items could include cups for water, reusable water bottles, snacks, socks, gloves and other clothing and accessories.
Perishable food and medications would be among items not accepted.
“Just some of those daily things so kids are ready to learn in the classroom and they don’t have to think about those things because we have those taken care of,” Shoemaker said.
Shoemaker talked to Jackson County United Way about possible funding opportunities for the Brave Place, and now, she and the JAG students are relying on students, staff and the community to come together to get the shelves stocked.
Donations may be dropped off in Shoemaker’s classroom or in the school office. Anyone with questions may email Shoemaker at [email protected]
“Definitely community support, I think, will be really beneficial because it is an undertaking on making sure that we’re able to sustain that,” she said. “It takes everybody.”