About 10 minutes later, a woman came in and asked for some binders. Sinkhorn filled that order quickly as well.
Although the scene looked like it was being played out at a store that caters to kids, it actually was occurring in the supplies room operated by the youth services center at Boyle County Middle School.
Youth services centers help students in the two local middle schools and the two local high schools. The Boyle district operates its centers at Boyle Middle and Boyle County High School, and the Danville district has centers at Bate Middle School and Danville High School.
Both districts also operate similar programs called family resource centers at their elementary schools — Junction City, Perryville and Woodlawn elementary schools in the county district and Hogsett, Jennie Rogers and Toliver elementary schools in the city district.
Both youth services centers and family resource centers offer a wide variety of help, including health screenings, reading programs, pregnancy prevention programs, and drug and alcohol education programs.
But the bread-and-butter programs offered are those under the headings of “basic needs” and “educational support.”
Basic needs include such things as clothing, shoes and food. Educational support includes such things as paper, pens, pencils, binders, backpacks and other school supplies.
Open to all
The basic needs and educational support programs focus on the needs of students whose parents or guardians have low incomes or have suffered financial setbacks or other crises. But the rooms where the clothing, food and supplies are stocked are there for every student.
“No child is denied what they need,” said Liz Gardner, coordinator of the family resource center at Woodlawn Elementary.
“What we and the network of many organizations and churches and businesses in the community that support our programs do is to try to connect all the dots and identify all the needs to make sure every child in every school has the support they need, whether it’s supplies or clothes or help in reading or health screenings and education, to be successful students,” Gardner added.
Her counterparts in the Boyle district, Sandra Clark, coordinator of the youth services center at the high school, and Carol Sargent, coordinator of the family resource centers at the Junction City and Perryville elementaries, and Sinkhorn, all agreed.
“Many of our services are for children on low incomes, kids who are on the free and reduced lunch programs, for instance, but they exist for every one of our students,” Clark said. “Every student gets what he or she needs to succeed.”
Sargent used a new student as an example of a youngster who is not economically needy but in immediate need of assistance.
“Not all our assistance is economy-based,” she said. “For instance, a student may transfer into a school and doesn’t have the supplies they need for all of their classes. Instead of having to wait a day or so to get them, we can provide them the first day they are in their new school.”
Sargent noted an incident where an elementary student needed a new binder due to an “accident” by his pet.
“Just before he went to school, his cat did her business on his binder,” she said. “He sprayed deodorant on the binder to try to mask the smell of cat urine, but it didn’t work and made the smell even worse.”
Clark said students also may need new clothing to replace what they had worn to school.
“A child may tear a pair of pants on the playground during recess, or they may come to school with a shirt or blouse that a teacher or administrator might think is inappropriate,” she said.
Coordinators say the foundation of their programs is built on a desire to help students who come from homes in some sort of chronic or temporary economic straits.
The recent recession and job layoffs have increased the “contacts” — the number of times that school supplies, clothing, shoes, food and hygiene products are provided to students — that centers have been making
During the 2009-2010 school year, the 2,700-student Boyle district had 2,046 contacts where students were provided school supplies and 1,892 contacts where students were provided clothing, shoes, food and hygiene products.