Caring Teacher and Community Donations Fuel Care Closet at Ferndale Schools
(Crystal A. Proxmire, Oct. 21, 2022)
Ferndale, MI – What started out as one teacher’s couponing adventure has grown into a project that helps students on a daily basis. The Ferndale Care Closet is a place where middle and high school students can stop in and pick up basic care supplies to help them look and feel their best as they tackle the challenges of growing up, learning, and fitting in.
English teacher Kandis Pagonas has been managing the project for six year. “In 2016, I started to coupon a bit and ended up with a lot of extra products. I gave stuff to family and friends, but still found myself with stockpiles of hygiene products,” she said. “I decided to take the extras to school and keep them in our English office to have on hand for students in need. As need expanded, I started to reach out to staff and the community for donations.”
During the pandemic, when students weren’t in the classroom, Pagonas moved the Care Closet to the front of the school, to be accessible to all students. It also expanded to include food items.
“The supplies get used daily,” Pagonas said. “It can be something as simple as a student running out of the house too quickly in the morning and forgetting deodorant (who hasn’t done that!?) or needing to brush their teeth real quick after lunch.
“By providing these supplies, students are able to feel comfortable and are more able to focus on learning rather than worrying about this basic needs.”
This year the closet is evolving even further as the dedicated teacher prepares to launch a Google form option, where students and parents can request specific items that can be packaged discretely and picked up from the main office.
“I am hopeful by rolling out our Google form option, we will have even more requests from students and their families,” she said. “This removes the barrier of having to ask in a face to face situation which can prevent individuals from utilizing the service.”
And of course the Care Closet is accepting donations. There is an Amazon Wishlist where people can purchase items directly. Or people can leave donations at the security desk of the high school. Any type of new, unused hygiene products are appreciated, including deodorant, body wash, hair products, and menstruation products.
Padonas said students “express their gratitude daily,” and that she is grateful too.
“I am so thankful for the community support we have received. I am overwhelmed and so grateful for everyone who has donated. The support from the Ferndale community is unmatched! The generosity of parents, staff, and community members make this all possible.”