This winter, a school-based donation center is opening in the Weyauwega-Fremont School District.
“By February 1, I’d like to have it up and running,” said Renee Hunkins, who is a family and consumer education teacher in the Weyauwega-Fremont School District and also the adviser of its chapter of Family Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA).
It was about a month ago that they began accepting donated items at the schools.
The idea is the result of a conference that Hunkins attended with students in October.
Students were supposed to dress up for the conference.
Two of Hunkins’ students were not dressed up, and she happened to hear an adviser of a different FCCLA chapter make a comment about that fact.
While Hunkins does not believe her two students heard the remark, it did bother her.
And so, the idea to have a donation center in the school district came to be, based on similar centers already established at other schools in the state, including at Green Bay Preble and in the Tri-County School District.
The idea, she said, is to have a center where a wrestler in need of a dress shirt can go, as well as students whose parents may be out of work and students in need of school supplies.
Clothing, personal hygiene items and school supplies are being accepted for the center.
“Lots of people are too proud to ask for help,” she said. “If you need something, you need it.”
Any student that goes to the new school-based donation center does so discretely. “No one knows who’s been there,” Hunkins said.
She plans to talk to the district’s guidance counselors and teachers about how to best take students through the center and said she is surprised by the amount of donations already received.
Boxes were placed in the elementary, middle and high school offices, and announcements were made.
“One teacher brought 10 boxes of stuff in right away,” Hunkins said. “Every day, there are more boxes or bags.”
Students assist in sorting the items, separating clothing by gender and size. Her sewing class checks if any of the donated clothes need to be washed or repaired. If so, that is taken care of right in the classroom, where there is a washing machine and dryer, and several sewing machines.
Presently, a corner of her classroom has piles of clothes in it.
Hunkins said that due to the rearrangement of library space in the high school, the former librarian’s office is available and will become the home of the donation center.
“We’re still working on a name for it,” she said.
In addition to clothing, including items for infants, backpacks and school supplies have already been donated for the center.
The center will serve students in grades K-12, and donation boxes are located near the entrances of the elementary, middle and high school offices.
Technology education students are building a donation box, and she said items can also be dropped off behind the high school by Door 18. Those donations should be protected by the weather.
Hunkins is surprised by the amount of things already given for the center. “I’m also surprised at how the (FCCLA) kids have embraced it,” she said.
A number of students volunteer to help with the project. Among them are Vicki Bentle and Claudia Ceja.
Ceja likes to help the community, and Bentle said, “It feels good that we can help others kids that don’t have a lot of things.”