As need increases, demand for school district closets rise

Bryan and College Station ISDs have seen students’ needs almost double this year
KBTX Brazos Valley This Morning(Recurring)
Published: Jan. 30, 2023 at 10:37 AM CST
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BRYAN, Texas (KBTX) - School resources like Hope’s Locker in Bryan ISD and Chrissy’s Closet in College Station ISD have seen an uptick of those in need this school year. Both have been lifelines through challenges like COVID-19 and inflation, providing essentials like clothes, shoes, toiletries and more to students, families and district employees in need.

According to Megan Meekma, the Bryan ISD Project Hope coordinator, Hope’s Locker served 333 students experiencing homelessness during the 2021-2022 school year. That’s now grown to 440 students this school year.

“If you don’t have warm clothes, a place to sleep at night or food at home, it’s kind of hard for you to come to school and focus on what you’re supposed to be learning,” Meekma said.

The number of those in need is even greater with families in the district factored in, according to Meekma.

“It makes me sad that we have that many students and families that are struggling,” Meekma said. “It’s great that we have a program like this where we not only have the clothing and the food pantry but we also have the social workers in the district, so we can help that social, emotional aspect as well.”

Chrissy’s Closet in College Station ISD has served almost double the number of students this school year compared to last.

“This time last year, we had served about 1,600 students and now, to date, we have served over 3,100 students in the same amount of time,” Teresa Benden said.

Benden, the executive director of the College Station ISD Education Foundation, also noted that the number of students considered low-income rose to 41%. She said this is why resources like the closet continue to strengthen students’ learning experiences.

“That’s how Chrissy’s Closet got started,” Benden said. “We wanted our students to be able to go to school and not be focused on how they look or did they have shoes on their feet. We wanted them to be able to come and just feel like every other student in their classrooms and focus on the learning.”

KBTX Brazos Valley This Morning(Recurring)

As the needs in the district grow, so will the closet in the next few months. Chrissy’s Closet is currently housed at College View High School but will soon move to the Barbara Bush Center after spring break. Benden said this will provide more room to spread out and create an even better shopping experience.

“We want our students and our teachers and our employees to come and feel like they’re really shopping in a store, that it’s a great experience,” Benden said. “They’re not there to feel like it’s a need, but it’s a blessing and that it’s something that they can enjoy.”

To donate to Chrissy’s Closet, click here. You can also find information on Hope’s Locker and how to donate here.