Vanessa Bateman and Heather Malick, two kindergarten teachers from Niota Elementary School in eastern Tennessee created the concept of a ‘comfort closet’ to provide the school’s children with these necessities “with no judgment, no questions, and easy access.” The closet is stocked with clothing, shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, combs, feminine hygiene products, toothpaste, toothbrushes and soap.
The ‘comfort closet’ is housed in an old locker room where children can discreetly be taken to the room to “shop”. This way it saves the children from embarrassment and helps them focus on learning without the additional stresses of life.
School officials report 10 or more students discreetly “shop” in the Comfort Closet each week
As the Comfort Closet program took off, the school sent out letters to parents, explaining the concept and asking for more donations. And the community has gladly heeded the call, hauling in everything from clothes and shoes in all sizes to gift cards, some of them donated through a recently installed drop box located at the school.
They purchase the items using their own money, and have also received donations from parents and some local businesses.
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