When a student at Crossett High School finds themselves in need, they can step into the Dignity Closet.
The closet is a place where students can go and find items they may be in need of. The closet contains donated items such as hygiene products, feminine products, extra clothes, laundry detergent and other household items.
CHS teacher Donna Culpepper said she got the idea from a meeting she attended earlier in the year. Culpepper learned that another school district had something similar and wanted to mirror the idea.
Culpepper said it started with one student coming to her in need of an item and blossomed from there.
“I thought this would be a great way of reaching those who are homeless or who have other needs that we might not know about,” Culpepper said.
Principal Anthony Boykin said he thinks the closet was greatly needed because of the number of students who live in poverty and he believes it really helps with attendance because there are students who are too embarrassed to come to school.
“Maybe their washing machine broke or they can’t afford laundry detergent that week,” Boykin said. “They don’t want to come to school with dirty clothes, it’s embarrassing, so they just don’t come.”
Now students have a safe, private place to go and get items they need without having to ask or explain their need or situation to anyone, Culpepper said.
“You know the more we can do for our students, the more we can help them with whatever their struggle is, the better,” Boykin said.
The dignity closet idea has worked so well that Culpepper said she wants to branch out and add snacks or non-pershible food items.
“I have so many students come to me and say how hungry they are and there are high school students who don’t have food at home,” Culpepper said.
Culpepper mentioned the back pack program that is done at the lower level schools and said that she believed high school students could be embarrassed by picking up a back pack full of raviolis and snacks. However, the way her closet is set up, students in need could get something to take home for the weekend without any of the students realizing or knowing about it.
The dignity closet is open and anyone who wishes to donate may take items to the CHS office.
CHS student Ryan Blissett is currently selling candy and T-shirts to fundraise for the closet.
“The students have all been wonderful,” Culpepper said. “The closet hasn’t been abused at all, and we have so many students who want to help.”