For most schools, back to school donations might include crayons, paper and pencils. At Baker County Middle School, though, it's boxes of toiletry items for their Bobcats Care Closet.
“What this closet does is provides comfort care items for any student who’s in need,” said Angela Callahan, a teacher at the school.
Callahan says she got the idea from social media.
“I saw online a picture of a closet at another school,” Callahan said. “I just thought, 'Hey, that’s a great idea,' so I brought it to our beta club students and they went with it."
Before this closet started four years ago, Callahan says teachers were dipping in their own pockets to help students out. Now, donations are typically brought in for students, by other students too.
“These kids don’t have access to a vehicle or to the store on their own, and sometimes they don’t have the means to do so,” Callahan said.
As middle school goes - whether it’s a need for deodorant, toothpaste or body wash, the students are at the age to point it out.
“This is a very trying social and emotional time and we want every kid to feel comfortable,” Callahan said.
The care closets are set up in teachers’ rooms around the school and students can grab what they want..
“We do have some teachers who’ll come in on behalf of a student because either the student is a little bit embarrassed or the student doesn’t know where to go,” Callahan said.
Unfortunately, Callahan said this year, they realized their closet was wiped out.
“Last year we had a hurricane in the panhandle and we reached out to a middle school there and we were able to send care packages for their students,” Callahan said. "The year before that, locally, we had Hurricane Irma, and we had a lot of students who were displaced."
So ahead of the school year, they’re asking anyone who can to donate.
“We don’t want any kind of other background issues keeping them from doing their very best in the classroom, so if we can make them feel a little more comfortable, chances are, they’re going to be ready to learn,” Callahan said.
Callahan says donations have poured in thanks to their giving community, but they are still accepting. Callahan says any extra supplies will go to other schools in the county, and she encourages other schools to create closets of their own.