POPLAR BLUFF, Mo. (KFVS) - A Giving Closet was opened at the middle school for students in need.
“My first year teaching I saw a lot of kids didn’t have the bare necessaries, and just know you’re starting your day at a disadvantage if you’re struggling [outside],” Eudaley said. “This allows us to give anonymously so kids can focus on school stuff instead of home stuff, and they don’t have to bring with them that emotional backpack.”
At the end of 2019, the school administration provided a small budget to buy bulk supplies such as body wash, and she started soliciting donations through her parish, West Side Church of God, as well as reaching out to other school patrons.
It’s located in what once served as the boys' locker room next to E.T. Peters Gym.
The custodial staff originally built a coat rack. Over the summer, with help from family and co-workers, Taytem Eudaley built shelving and racks, and organized inventory that includes clothing, personal hygiene items and school supplies.
Previously, the school had stored some supplies in the nurse’s office, according to Eudaley, but the collection was not on display for students to browse.
“It was a bit of a mess before with donations lying around, and she basically washed all the clothes and built the shelves over the summer as a project for her master’s program,” said Dr. Josh Teeter, middle school principal. “The main purpose is to provide clothing for kids who don’t have the means available.”
Some items on the current needs list include toothbrushes, toothpaste, clothing hangers, gently-used backpacks and young adult books.
Eudaley said she is eventually looking to get a washer and dryer once a hookup is installed.
The Middle School Giving Closet is modeled in part after a similar operation that runs out of the high school library. Both accept items through the main offices of each school building.
“Teachers do see firsthand the kids that need that extra help,” Eudaley said.
This is why Eudaley and other counselors are giving students more options.
“Within this first quarter alone, we’ve helped over 30 kids with items,” Eudaley said.
The school’s been collecting items for the project for the past couple of years.
There’s no extra cost to the school the students remain anonymous.
“The fact that kids are getting their needs met is just something to be very proud of,” Eudaley said.
“We had started a smaller, not very organized giving closet a few years ago but when we got together with Tatem she wanted to just create something that was more organized,” Lauren Hasanov said.
Michelle Shepard, Britney Stahl and Lauren Hasanov are middle school counselors. They said this big upgrade is useful to their students.
“We’ll walk them down and we’ll give them some opportunities. We don’t want to just throw a t-shirt at them and say hey here you go,” Stahl said.
“It’s just a great resource for our kids and families just so we have something we can offer them,” Hasanov said.
Students are referred by teachers and counselors, then they present a voucher to Eudaley who discreetly takes them “shopping” at the start of the school day.