By Stefanie Jackson – Northampton County Public Schools is participating in two programs that seek to reduce absenteeism and bullying by making sure all students have access to clean clothes.

A host of volunteers put together the first Kids Closet over the summer of 2019, which is housed in an extra classroom or storage room in NHS.

Community members donated gently used clothes, and hangers were donated by a local department store. The NHS carpentry class built shelving for the Kids Closet, which opened at the beginning of the 2019-2020 school year.

Items in the Kids Closet range from T-shirts and other everyday clothing items to winter coats, as well as hygiene products like deodorant and lotion.

All of the clothing and supplies are free to students to borrow or keep – “whatever the student’s most comfortable with,” she said.

Whether a student needs a new clothing item for regular or temporary use – for example, if something was spilled on clothing at lunch – the Kids Closet is ready to help.

Monetary donations are also accepted. In response to requests from local churches that wanted to donate, NCEF established a Kids Closet fund in January 2020, which has received more than $7,000 to date.

To donate, visit www.ncedufoundation.com and click on the “Click Here to Donate” button. When filling out the donation form, select Kids Closet from the dropdown menu in the field labeled “Direct My Donation to.”

Jones said, “I love the Kids Closet. It’s one of my favorite projects.”

Loads of Love

Students who don’t have clean clothes are more likely to miss school and are more likely to be bullied at school, Jones said.

Northampton High School qualified for the program as there is only one laundromat in Northampton County, in Eastville.

Detergent and dryer sheets are provided, as well as mesh bags in which students can out their laundry.

Teachers also may use the laundry equipment, and eventually parents and families will be welcome to use the laundry facility, which is in the mini gym, behind the main school gym.

Allowing students’ families to come to school and use the washers and dryers was always in the original plan for the laundry program, but it was waylaid due to COVID-19.

Once Northampton schools become more open to the public, families will be invited to use the laundry room, which they will find complete with a couch, books, and magazines to use while they wait for a load to finish.

For more information on Loads of Love, visit ncpsk12.com/page/nms or email loadsoflove@ncpsk12.com.