The student council at Great Salt Bay Community School has completed one of its biggest projects ever – establishing a “comfort closet” with hygiene items and snacks for students in need.
The project included the purchase of a large cabinet to stock with the products.
“A lot of teachers and our school nurses especially have been, sort of on the side, providing all these things for kids,” said Ann Jackson, a fifth- and sixth-grade teacher and adviser to the student council. “We just felt like it would be better for them if they didn’t have to ask somebody.”
Jackson said she has a drawer in her own desk filled with hygiene products for students.
However, asking a teacher for such items can be uncomfortable for a student, so the comfort closet allows students to take what they need when they need it.
GSB’s student council completes various service projects every year, such as raising money for donations to organizations like the Red Cross and maintaining the memorial garden near the school playground.
The student council usually raises money from school dances and movie nights, Jackson said.
After a brainstorming session last fall, the idea of the comfort closet stuck.
“A lot of their focus is fundraising and donating to causes, but they have decided to keep it within the school this year, and (the comfort closet) seemed like a thing that would directly benefit our students,” Jackson said. She called the project one of the council’s biggest ever.
Ten students in grades six through eight make up the student council.
The project took about two months, Jackson said, and was finished in January.
The council bought the cabinet for about $250. Next, the council found local sponsors to help fill the cabinet with supplies. Hannaford Supermarket and GSB staff gave a gift card and money, respectively, for the project. The employees at Cheney Insurance in Damariscotta pledged a large box of products every month.
The cabinet holds close to $300 worth of items, Jackson said.
The student council came up with the title “comfort closet” as well, but members said it is subject to change since they are not the biggest fans of the name.
Jackson said the cabinet is in a room where health classes and study halls take place, which has a lot of students going in and out. Though older students established the comfort closet, anyone in need of deodorant, shampoo, soap, feminine products, Chapstick, or other items can take what they need.
The cabinet will be restocked as needed, Jackson said. A note on the cabinet says “take what you need only” and lists donors and supporters of the project.
Once the comfort closet was up and running, staff made announcements to the students during their lunch periods and the school newsletter published an article about the project.
“I think it’s an incredibly needed project for our students,” GSB Principal Kim Schaff said.
Schaff said not every student has the financial support to access the items in the closet. She said the project is all about “kids taking care of kids.”
This objective fulfills the mission of the student council, as most members joined to help other students.
“I wanted to help out the school … and make a difference,” council member Olivia Swartzentruber said.
“I joined student council because I can’t remember what it was, but I disagreed with something, so I joined to help make a change. Being able to make change in the school feels really good,” council member Liam Card said.
Council member Connor Parson said he joined to “improve the experience for the students in the school.”
A recent inventory shows students are already taking items from the comfort closet, Jackson said.
The student council welcomes sponsors or donations to the project. For more information, email Jackson at email@example.com or call the front office at 563-3091.