Local school districts give back to families in need

This is a recurring recording of WBNG's 6pm newscast.
Published: Sep. 13, 2022 at 6:51 PM EDT
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(WBNG) -- As people are still trying to recover from the lasting effects of the pandemic and inflation, it may be difficult for some families to afford back to school items for their children.

However, to help offset some of those costs for families -- Johnson City, Maine-Endwell, and Union-Endicott school districts are offering free resources for back to school needs.

Inside Jennie F. Snapp’s “Tiger Closet,” families can choose from a variety of clothing, shoes, school supplies and hygiene products. All items are donated by the community.

“It’s open to anybody in the school, students or staff,” said said JFS Social Worker Gina Ferraro. “Whatever the case may be, whatever the need that comes up. We’re here for everybody.”

Parent Volunteer Linda Clark, who helped start the U-E closets, said the project first started with one location at CFJ Elementary and has now grown to reach more schools in the district.

“I drove around, loaded up my car, got stuff from people, sorted it, organized it and started there,” said Clark. “Other schools said they wanted one too, so it just grew. Now, I’ve got three at different schools.”

Kim Sprague, a school counselor at JFS, said it takes many helping hands to run the growing closets.

“Gina and I have been involved with students helping us organize and handle the donations,” Sprague said.

Student volunteers Dantasia Colquitt and Rukia Alaubaidy said they enjoy dedicating their time to help.

“What inspired me to come to the Tiger Closet is helping others -- other kids at my school that didn’t really have any clothing,” said eighth grader Colquitt.

Alaubaidy, also in the eighth grade, said volunteering at the closet makes her feel like a better person.

“I feel like this is really helping me find a good side to myself, not only helping people but helping myself evolve into a really good person,” she said.

Union-Endicott isn’t the only district offering these resources. Over at Maine-Endwell, students and staff are also lending a helping hand.

“We think about taking care of students’ basic needs before they can really learn, and for students to feel like there’s one last stressor they don’t have to worry about,” said Maine-Endwell High School Assistant Principal Jennifer Yurko.

The “Spartan Closet” offers up-to-date and in-style clothing items to help students in need. One student shared how he helps out by organizing the clothes.

“We usually wash, dry and we just hang them. We organize them by colors,” said student volunteer Bri Kika.

In Johnson City, the school district’s “Wildcat Clothing Center” provides families with school supplies, shoes and clothing for all seasons.

“We have a great community school program. We’re really excited about it and the fact that we’ve expanded,” said Johnson City High School Principal Fred Deinhardt.

This school year, the JCCSD is getting ready to welcome a new addition to its center -- a food pantry.

The pantry is set to open early October and will help families in the district facing food insecurity.

“Part of our Johnson City community schools goal is making sure that we are able to support any food insecurities and housing insecurities,” said JC Community Schools Coordinator Andrea Hankey. “We want to make sure that the whole student and the whole family is taken care of.”

More information about each district’s resources or how to donate can be found below: