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Making a difference: Helping students with 'Needs Board'

Asking for something you need, like deodorant or glasses, isn't easy for students to do.

ORANGE PARK, Fla. — *Author's Note: For right now the list is small of needed items, but if it grows or there is a place for the general public to donate items or money - we will update this story accordingly.*

Asking for something you need, like deodorant or glasses, isn't easy for students to do. Sometimes there is fear of embarrassment, so a Clay County school came up with an idea to help, but do it anonymously.

At Orange Park Junior High School (OPJHS), if you take a stroll down to Mrs. Kirkland's class, you will see post-its dotting the back wall.

They were written by students as part of a "Needs Board" project.

The idea behind it is simple. A student can take a post-it, write down what they need, but don't put their name – just a student ID number - and tack it back up on the board.

"We go in and take it off, get it and put it in the cabinet so they can find it," explains Kassie Kirkland, a first-year teacher at OPJHS.

Students are already taking advantage of the project. Some of the items, sprawled out in pencil, include basic necessities like shoes, a comb and warm socks.

Kirkland and baseball coach, Lance Heck, says the idea came about when they saw a student in desperate need of a new backpack. The school does keep some clothing and supplies on hand to help students they see are in need, but with the 'Needs Board', most items are donated by teachers or other students wanting to help.  

"Today we will put shoes on two kids' feet," says Lance Heck."They have shoes, but they can see their feet through them. They are worn out, it's cold out there."

Their kindness is making a difference.

"The student with the backpack, his grades have improved, he is engaged in class," explains Heck.

Because what everyone needs sometimes, is a little compassion.

"It is everyone kind of like being a community at the school and helping one another," tells Kirkland.