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Perham elementary school opens 'Care Closet' to help kids in need

Heart of the Lakes' Brooklyn Thompson and Eryn Moser led the project with the support of the HIVE.

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The Care Closet holds essential products that are available for kids in need.
Contributed / Perham Public Schools
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PERHAM — It can be daunting to ask for help when it comes to personal hygiene supplies. However, several people at the Heart of the Lakes Elementary School (HOTL) in Perham are trying to ease that burden with the creation of the HOTL Care Closet.

HOTL’s Brooklyn Thompson, a school counselor, and Eryn Moser, who works in Interventions, have led the charge, with support from HOTL’s Parent Support Group, the HIVE.

Moser said with her role at school, she deals with a lot of at-risk students who need this support. The idea is something they pondered for a while, and now it has come to fruition. “This summer I found some furniture that we could use to store some items,” Moser said. “There was a need for it with some of the students I see. They needed a place where they could feel safe to ask for help.”

Thompson said the school has received extensive support from the community and others in the building. She said excitement is starting to build around the project.

“We will be looking for donations throughout the school year of basic hygiene products — shampoo, conditioner, body wash, soap, toothbrush, toothpaste, combs and stuff like that for kids to use at home and come to school feeling their best, so they are coming to school ready to learn for the day,” Thompson said.

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Both Thompson and Moser said the main goal of the Care Closet is to create comfort for students, make sure the students know they have a safe place to go, and have a centralized location for necessities.

“I think in the past, the nurses had some things, the counselors had some things, I had some things, our classroom teachers had some things and the kids were like where do I go? Even teachers would say who do I go to for help with this? What Brooklyn and I are trying to alleviate is having one spot where kids can come and feel comfortable asking for help. We now have this Care Closet.” Moser said. “Just having one spot so that teachers know, kids know, adults know in our building. It has not necessarily been mismanaged in the past; it was just everyone was trying to do something. It would be nice to have one location that they come to, and the kids know.”

Thompson recently spent time in the classroom introducing the Care Closet to HOTL students and said they have already come up and asked to visit it.

“That helps put them at ease. They know they can find me, Eryn Moser, ask a teacher or whoever they feel the most comfortable going to,” Thompson said. “But I think as the school year starts, they see our faces and our names, and they know we are here to help. We do our best to provide that safe spot for them to come.”

The HIVE Parent Group has really left its mark on this project. According to Thompson, they donated funds to get the project started and have offered more help with donations to get specific hygiene products for the Care Closet.

Moser said it is nice to have a purpose with this project and to see the community support behind it. They have received donations from a couple of area businesses and have heard from different community members asking to help.

“The community has been really supportive and had several people reach out asking how they can help. That has been awesome," Moser said.

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