The Union Recorder

September 6, 2013

School uniform, supply closets aid students

Vaishali Patel
The Union-Recorder

MILLEDGEVILLE — Communities In Schools of Milledgeville-Baldwin County’s (CISMBC) mission is to help students stay in school and prepare for life by decreasing unmet needs of children and families. For the past three years, CISMBC has operated a uniform and school supply closet at Eagle Ridge Elementary School as a way to ensure students are ready to learn and decrease the financial burden on local parents.

“It’s a great resource. A lot of families are here don’t have the extra money to buy school uniforms or school supplies,” said Christi Tyson, CISMBC site coordinator for Eagle Ridge. “The first year Communities In Schools started here, the school already had the uniform closet, which was run by the school council. We added the school supply closet and took over the uniform closet.”

Last school year alone, Tyson provided 102 uniform pieces to students in need.

“The number of students needing uniforms is going up every year. When school started, we had a few families call the school to tell office staff that they needed school clothes. By the middle of the school year, we start seeing students outgrow their clothes and their book bags start tearing up, and parents can’t afford replacing it,” Tyson said. “Our uniform and supply closets are very important to students and families to have this resource available to them. If a student doesn’t have a pencil or certain school supply, the teacher also doesn’t have to spend their own money to help the student; we have the school supply closet.”

The local organization expanded its site coordinator program into Creekside Elementary School this academic year. Each site coordinator works in collaboration with fellow site coordinators to bring resources to their individual schools, including Early Learning Center, Midway Elementary School and Baldwin High School. An AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer provides support at Blandy Hills Elementary to offer some of the same benefits as the other schools. CISMBC hopes to raise enough funds to hire a full-time site coordinator at Blandy by next year.

Last school year, site coordinators provided nearly 200 students individual tutoring sessions.

“We provide resources to students, such as tutoring, mentoring, basic health, mental health and we have a partnership with River Edge,” Tyson said. “We bring in new programs to the whole school.”

To keep school uniform and supply closets full at the local public schools with site coordinators, the community is welcome to make donations at the schools’ front offices.

“We also have a great need for shoes, belts and socks, and we’re short on size 12 and 10 in uniforms,” Tyson said. “Proctor & Gamble donated travel-size shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, deodorant and body wash last year. This year, Trinity CME Church donated new sets of uniforms, and the community donated school supplies through the recent Walmart school supply drive.”

With a partnership with the local Salvation Army, Tyson and fellow site coordinators can shop at no cost to replenish items in the closets.

“I can give parents a referral to go to Salvation Army,” she said. “The closets are very critical for us and families. We’re grateful to the community because these closets wouldn’t be a success without their support. The community doesn’t realize how many families a small donation is helping; it’s very critical.”

For more information about CISMBC or to donate time or resources call CISMBC Executive Director Sandy Baxter at 478-452-3408, or visit www.milledgeville.communitiesinschools.org.

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