By Michelle McLemore
Public school teachers have long used personal money and time to fill voids when they see their students have needs. Two Onsted Elementary teachers are teaming up again to provide assistance in a big way with the help of the community. From snacks to clothes to toiletries and dental needs, Lori Jensen and Sharon Upp are going on their second year of building a resource closet to meet their pupils’ needs.
Jensen said, “I partnered with Sharon for it last year as a way of paying it forward. It is my passion! I was a single mom of two sons and it was tough. I feel for these families. I’m blessed these days!”
As the new school year draws near, the team already has a wish list to fill. Topping the list are new clothes, shoes, and underwear. Sizes 4T-14 for clothing sizes 11-6 for shoes. “Gift cards are always welcome,” Jensen clarified.
Specific requests have come in for a boy who wears size 12 pants and size 12 shirts. He likes Fortnight. Any boy age-appropriate clothes would be appreciated. Blue, green, and orange are his favorite colors.
A second boy wears size 7 husky pants, size 7 shirts. He likes dinosaurs and Batman. Blue and orange are his favorite colors. Also, there is a need for a girl who wears size 6 slim pants and size 6 shirts. She likes Paw Patrol, Frozen, and unicorns. Purple and pink are her favorite colors.
Soon snacks will also be in high demand. “Food has been a big item. Kids have been known to take home their snacks given at school because they go hungry at home. We normally supply snacks to keep in the classrooms for them to eat whenever they need,” Jensen continued. Long shelf-life items, mostly healthy are preferred. However, Jensen admits, crackers, popcorn, pretzels, granola bars, Little Debbie or Hostess items are also desired. “After all – we all LOVE a sweet treat.”
When the weather begins to turn cold, Jensen and Upp will begin seeking donations for coats, snow pants, hats, gloves, scarves, and the usual winter apparel. But toiletries, mini toothpaste and brushes that dentists hand out, laundry soap, and general home good items are always needed.
The resource closet is located in the Onsted Elementary building. The guidance office will get confidential requests that are forwarded to the team. Forms are also sent home for parents and guardians to fill out and send back if they have a need. “Then, parents may come in with their kids and basically shop,” Jensen clarified.
“The community has been wonderful helping with supplies,” she noted. “One year we even had a bridal shop donate dresses for the Daddy-Daughter Dance.” Jensen fondly remembers one student who came in and had to check the ‘twirl-ability’ of a dress before taking it home for the big event. “Local businesses have donated gift cards for meals and so on – each is truly an act of love by so many people!” Jensen affirmed.
She also wanted to share: “Sharon Upp has always had a big heart when it comes to our kids. Her actions regarding the needs of our kids is another one of my inspirations!”