NCJW Palm Beach Section established Kids Community Closet – secured emergency closets in thirteen local public elementary schools in which at least 90% of the attending children qualify for free or reduced lunch, the federal measure of poverty. The closets are stocked with pants and shorts, collared jerseys, underwear and socks. On request, the section provides school supplies and personal care items, and through its partnership with Jacob’s Shoes, a Margate, FL non-profit, schools are able to obtain free footwear for their students.
Selected school personnel distribute these items on an emergency basis; they provide proper clothing for children in case of emergency needs. The section’s goal is to keep children coming to school and focused on learning.
The section is currently serving schools with a total enrollment of over 10,000 children. NCJW volunteers serve as liaisons to the schools, checking on inventory needs and work with school personnel to make sure the closet is orderly and properly stocked. One additional closet provides socks and underwear for the 3200 homeless children and the 800 – 1000 children in out-of-home-placement foster care that attend the public schools. Through a grant funded by Allegany Franciscan Ministries, feminine care products are provided to young women who are homeless and in out-of-home-placement foster care as well. This specialized closet is located on the grounds of the Lincoln Elementary School in Riviera Beach and is managed with the staff of the McKinney-Vento Program of the Safe Schools Division of the Palm Beach School District.
Making sure that children have what they need to be able to attend school is a concern shared by many NCJW sections. Through Back to School Stores and other programs at least 14 sections provide back packs, school supplies, and clothing that reached nearly 40,000 children in FY2017. Sections reporting in include: Cleveland, Michigan, Essex, Greater Houston, Jersey Hills, Long Beach, Minnesota, Nebraska, New York, Palm Beach, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Rockland, and St. Louis.