Dec. 15, 2017

’Tis the season for giving – and caring. But for schools across IPS, giving and caring is a year- round effort as teachers and staff constantly innovate ways to meet the needs of their students outside of the classroom.

The desire to support the entire family gave birth to The Caring Closet at William McKinley School 39.

“We strive to be a well-rounded school. We’re a neighborhood. We’re a team and we’re all in this together,” said Hannah Sturm, William McKinley’s parent involvement educator.

Boxes of food

Sturm helped jumpstart the closet at the beginning of the school year after seeing many personal needs that weren’t being met. Thanks to donations from more than one dozen businesses and organizations, the school has been able to stock the closet with food, cleaning supplies, personal hygiene products, school supplies, backpacks and clothing — including winter coats, hats, gloves and scarves.

The Caring Closet opened Nov. 13, offering boxed meals and some toiletry items to 76 William McKinley families — just in time for Thanksgiving.

On Tuesday, Dec. 12, the school opened the closet again to serve 40 families — giving them an opportunity to “shop” for whatever they needed before the district’s two-week winter break and the Christmas holiday.

“One lady shared that this shopping trip came right on time. Her husband had recently lost his job and they were taking care of two of their grandchildren,” said Sturm.

Sturm and Principal Stacy Coleman experienced a full range of emotions as they helped families shop.

“We’re so thankful these parents let us take care of their children five days a week and we can’t think of a better way to express that gratitude than to help care for the entire family,” said Sturm. “I just think it’s awesome that we can help the parents in this way.

William McKinley is planning one shopping date a month, open to any of the school’s families in need.