GREENACRES, Fla. — With bullying, social media, and studying to earn good grades, school can be hard enough for children at any age. And if a child doesn't feel confident in themselves, that can make for a difficult school year.
For schools, giving that child the ability to feel confident through their clothes isn't possible due to lack of funding or available programs.
“We can give them books to read, we can give them paper, we can educate them. But we really can’t put clothes on their backs," said Nina Lant, principal at Heritage Elementary School in Greenacres.
On Thursday morning at Lant's school, a ribbon cutting is planned for their new Kids Community Closet, which is aimed at helping kids to feel empowered with clean, new clothes.
It's all thanks to the efforts of the local chapter of the National Council of Jewish Women, which runs the Kids Community Closet program across the county.
The closet is filled with brand-new collared shirts, pants, socks and even underwear donated by the council. If teachers and staff notice a child's clothes not fitting right or other problems, they can refer the child to go home with new clean clothes from the closet to help struggling families.
The Kids Community Closet program selects schools with an enrollment of more than 90 percent of students living at or below the federal poverty level.
Nintey-five percent of the students at Heritage are on free and reduced lunch, so parents might not have the money for clothes.
“They provide for their children, they care about their children. They’re very involved in their children’s lives but you know, they have financial struggles," said Lant. "For a lot of them, English is their second language so they’re struggling with that as well. So it’s just another way for us to support our kids.”
Heritage Elementary School has been using some donations from the Council of Jewish Women to help with emergencies such as spills and other messy incidents. But this is the first time the closet will be stocked with even more donations to reach more students and help boost self-esteems.
“And also really with attendance. A lot of times the parents will get into a situation where I can’t do laundry three days a week, and they get into a situation where they missed school because of clothing issues," she said. "So, it's really helped with our attendance as well."
The council has opened 14 other Kid's Community Closets at schools across palm beach county, helping 10,000 children in the area.