Kids Community Closet providing clothes, winter gear for children in need

ST LOUIS — Children who need warm gloves or coats are finding just what they need in some special “closets.”

The National Council of Jewish Women St. Louis (NCJWSTL) knows having what you need helps keep children in school and focused on learning.  

On Wednesday, Construction of a new Kids Community Closet (KCC) at KIPP Wonder Academy by University City High School Shop Students Volunteering Along with Their Shop Teacher.  

The  High School students just completed a Kids Community Closet across the street from their school at Jackson Park Elementary. In the coming weeks, a closet will be installed at Buder Elementary. NCJWSTL has been stocking the Closets at KIPP, Jackson Park, and Buder throughout the pandemic. Due to safety concerns, the actual closets are now able to be built! 

“The goal of this is to serve kids in communities and keep them in school. So if they go out to recess maybe they don’t have gloves, we will have it in the closet so they can go outside. Socks, we want to make sure they have it,” said Michelle Brooks, NCJWSTL board member.   

The Kids Community Closet is stocked by NCJWSTL volunteers who work with school administrators to supply students in need with the clothing, winter gear, or personal care items they need to succeed. 

Partnerships are the key to this program, and to NCJWSTL’s overall impact on the community.

University  High School Shop students, their teacher, Steven Wurst,  the High School Shop Teacher, and Jim Clarkin, Cabinet Maker Coordinator at Carpenters Joint Apprenticeship Program/Community Volunteer, volunteered to install brand new closets at local elementary schools. 

“It feels good because I am the oldest out of all my siblings, and they always ask me to help with stuff so to help others makes me feel great,” said Kylin Fisher.   

Not only are the students learning applied skills through their class, but they are also experiencing what it means to give back to the community.

With more than 5,000 members and supporters, the NCJWSTL has been working to improve the lives of women, children, and families in St. Louis since 1895. Starting with the area’s first Free Milk program in 1919, NCJWSTL is a catalyzer and convener within the nonprofit community. 

Kids Community Closet (KCC) provides underserved children with clothing, coats, backpacks, school supplies, and personal care items in their school to allow them to attend school every day, which maximizes their learning potential. 

“I think students experience especially during the pandemic a lot of kids experience some degree of insecurity food or clothing the goal would be kids could come to school without any worries of a dirty uniform or absence of a uniform and focus on learning and having fun,” said Christopher Frills.

NCJWSTL’s Kids Community Closet program serves 32 schools in seven districts across the St. Louis region, reaching 11,000+ students a year with the resources of the Kids Community Closet. 

Established in 2008, the Kids Community Closet has directly impacted the students with access: attendance rates have increased at the schools with Kids Community Closets. 

NCJWSTL serves students who attend elementary schools were at least 80% qualify to receive free and/or reduced-price lunches. 

For more information on how you can get involved or donate, visit: https://ncjwstl.org/why-we-do-this-work/kids-community-closet/