But what about students whose parents may not be able to afford the extra expense?
Junior Auxiliary member Anna Hutt said one of the civic club’s programs addresses this issue. It is called Jackets for Juniors and it needs community involvement to succeed.
The program provides warm coats for middle school students. Coats have been purchased this year by funds provided through the club, corporate sponsorships and individual donations.
“I contacted friends and asked them to donate one or two jackets,” Hutt said. “Most of us who have a job can do that. Then I asked for donations from certain businesses.”
She highlighted the monetary gifts from Chad and Joy Eslinger, Guy and Melissa Barat, Al and Laura Shumaker and Beverly Johnson.
These individuals stepped up when funds were short for this year’s Jackets for Juniors program.
Hutt said she does not want to face having a lack of jackets again. She is asking the public to step up and buy new fleece coats to prepare for next year’s need.
The drive will last all of November. Coats can be dropped off at Deli Boys off Keith Street. Hutt said zip-up fleeces are the most popular among students. Fleeces, like the popular North Face jackets, provide warmth and can be used throughout the year.
Cleveland Middle School counselor Miranda Whittington said there is a great need for the drive.
“There are a lot of projects in Cleveland, but a lot of them stop at a certain age or they are only for elementary schools,” Whittington said. “They think because they are in middle school then they don’t need these programs anymore, but they still get cold. They still need jackets.”
Whittington requested 40 jackets for CMS. She met with students identified by teachers and asked them if they needed a jacket. An affirmative answer was met by a follow-up question, “What size do you wear?”
All students met with Whittington in private. Hutt and Whittington explained the program is highly confidential so the public will not know which students need coats.
“I get to be the one who gets to give them the jackets and see the look on their face and establish that relationship,” Whittington said. “I’ve had them write thank-you notes after they receive a jacket. I try to teach them when they receive a gift from someone, they need to write a thank-you note.”
Whittington requested 20 less jackets than she did last year. She said the reason is because students who received a jacket last year have taken good care of the gift.
Hutt said the program takes care of more than just a student’s physical needs.
“It is such an age where they are so aware of what is going on. You want to bring their self-esteem up,” Hutt said. “You want them to not only be warm, but also to have a new coat. That is why we require a brand new coat.”
“Everyone likes to receive a brand new gift and I think there is something about feeling good in your classroom (that helps in school).”
Hutt suggested shopping at Ross, TJ Maxx, Old Navy and Burlington Coat Factory for good deals and warm jackets. Coats will also be given to Lake Forest and Ocoee middle schools.