Club to help meet students’ basic needs; Kiwanis partners to clothe children in need
Published 10:14 am Wednesday, April 6, 2016
The Austin Early Risers Kiwanis Club is partnering with Faith Evangelical Free church and the Austin Public School District to help students in need.
“Why we’re here is for the Kiwanis Kids Closet,” Austin Early Risers Kiwanis Club President Dr. Eric Shoars said.
A casual conversation between a Kiwanian and a friend about kids in poverty led the partnership to create Kiwanis Kids Closet, which helps clothe children in need.
Email newsletter signup
“We presented checks today to all of the principals in the school district that will fund the closet at each location,” Shoars said at a presentation at Southgate Elementary School Tuesday morning. “What that will allow them to do is to stock a room with basic necessities such as socks, underwear, sweat pants, that when a teacher, para or staff member sees a child that is in need of such an item that they can discreetly give an item to that individual.”
Shoars said the idea for the Kiwanis Kids Closet came about after a conversation with a paraprofessional at one of the elementary schools. He noted many community organizations do backpack programs to help feed children in poverty in the community, but there’s no program to provide basic clothing for children on an as-need basis.
The Kiwanis Kids Closet will be stocked with basic necessities including underwear, socks and sweatpants. When a teacher, paraprofessional or staff member observes a child is without one of these items, that person can request an item from the closet which then will be discreetly given to the child. Funding for the program comes from the Austin Early Risers Kiwanis Club, Faith Evangelical Free Church and an anonymous donor.
“We’re just excited about this project and working with the school district and our other donors and to be able to help kids in poverty in this community,” Shoars said.
Members of the school district accepted checks Tuesday for the program at Southgate.
“On behalf of the school district, we cannot be more happy to have partnered with the Early Morning Kiwanis Club with these donations,” said Brad Bergstrom, Human Resources director for Austin Public Schools. “It will certainly ease the needs of many children that attend Austin Public Schools from the pre-kindergarten level all the way through the fourth-grade level.”
The Community Learning Center, Woodson Kindergarten Center, and Sumner, Neveln, Banfield and Southgate elementary schools all received funding for the program.
“One of the things we have found is kids can’t focus on learning to read, do math, write, when they are constantly under stress because their basic needs aren’t being met,” Sumner Principal Sheila Berger said. “So things like underwear and socks can bring such comfort to a student and allow them to focus on school.”
Faith Church joined with the Austin Early Risers Kiwanis Club because members feel it is a program that will bring essential clothing needs to children, according to Keener Burke of the church.
“This is one part of what we are called to do: care for children and be the hands and feet of Jesus Christ to them,” Burke said in a press release. “We are glad to be a part of this opportunity.”
Chartered in 1975, the Austin Early Risers Kiwanis Club’s mission is to help children in need. The cub is comprised of 25 community leaders and business professionals who meet every Wednesday morning at 7 a.m. at the Eagles Club.