The Community Assistance & Resource Effort (CARE) Closet is a confidential school-based food pantry. This food pantry is sponsored by various high school clubs, local businesses and non-profit organizations as they help support their peers/community members and provide them with a basic need that is absolutely essential for their academic success.
The CARE Closet is not simply an informational resource. It serves as an immediate and tangible “fix” for a very solvable problem. Each day hundreds of students come to school and leave school hungry. Therefore, The CARE Closet was founded by high school students, Lauren and Steven S., as a response to an issue that cannot be ignored. Students are unable to concentrate, perform, or focus when their most basic need is not being met.
“For homeless students and those in transitional housing, these care closets have been a lifesaver,” said Calicchia, who emphasized that students can use these items without sacrificing their dignity.
“The closets are set up in inconspicuous spots, and all the teachers know about the closets and can direct students who need these items to them without causing embarrassment or digging into their own pockets to provide these items for their students.”
The initial five closets have been a hit, and the BTU hopes to expand this innovative strategy and create care closets in more Baltimore schools, Calicchia said. And the program has an added bonus: More AFT members are discovering that they can look to First Book not only for high-quality, diverse books but also for schools supplies, hygiene items, and even socks and winter coats on the First Book Marketplace.
It’s just one of the innovative ways that AFT members are working in partnership with the community “to make our schools welcoming spaces for all students and their families.”
You can donate to Care Closet.org HERE.