ECASD needs help to keep kids warm

Published: Dec. 23, 2020 at 4:33 AM CST|Updated: Dec. 23, 2020 at 8:00 AM CST
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - As the cold winter months start to set in, the Eau Claire Area School District needs your help. The district wants to make sure all students have the supplies they need to stay warm.

All year long you can drop off supplies at the Eau Claire Area School District’s main building but right now a special donation drive is underway at Hom Furniture in Eau Claire. They are accepting donations of new or gently used winter gear for kids of all ages.

All the winter essentials including mittens, gloves, coats, hats and scarves are in the closet for district students. The clothes come in all colors, shapes and sizes. “Our goal is to have every size of the items that we keep so that a student never has to wait for an item,” said Dani Claesges, the ECASD Homeless Program Coordinator.

The closet for the Eau Claire Area School District is available for all students in the district Pre-K through 12th grade. “If there is a need in the district and a staff member recognizes that, then they are able to access the closet for that student,” Claesges said.

The need is massive, of the nearly 11,000 students in the district, one third of them are at the level of income to qualify for free and reduced lunch. “The academics probably come second or third and the basic needs are what we need to work on first,” said Kaying Xiong, the executive director of student services at the ECASD.

Now that the cold winter months are here, that means warm clothes are flying off the shelves. “We definitely have seen our numbers go up,” Claesges added.

In October alone, the district handed out 80 coats, 82 sets of winter boots and 70 pairs of snow pants. “It’s very clear that there is a bigger need then we have seen in the past and we need to be ready to handle that,” Claesges said.

While the closet may look stocked for now, it changes daily as items go to the students as soon as they need it. “It is a revolving inventory and so we always have to make sure we are reaching out and hopefully getting more donations so that we can keep this closet stocked for the next kid who needs something,” Claesges added.

They are gearing the kids up for the winter and bright futures ahead. “While we probably can’t remove all of the barriers we try very hard to mitigate the barriers that stand in the way of learning for our students and their families,” Xiong said.

Their community is standing strong behind them to make it happen. “To see families get what they need and really appreciate it It’s beyond words honestly,” Claesges said.

If you would like to help, the donation drive is happening at Hom Furniture at 4850 Golf Rd in Eau Claire in the Oakwood Mall. Stop by any day during business hours to drop off your donations of new or gently used clothes for kids in Pre-K through 12th grade.

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