BUCKHANNON — Three local school counselors were able to gather useful supplies for their students Sunday afternoon thanks to Shoe Sensation of Buckhannon and local donors.
The trio happily met at the Shoe Sensation to be presented with donations for their “Comfort Closets” that will benefit local students in the upcoming school year. Tennerton Elementary School Counselor Suzanne Bohman, Buckhannon-Upshur Middle School Counselor Shauna Jones, and Buckhannon-Upshur High School Counselor Anthony McDaniels were all present to receive the generous donations that will help students in Upshur County without all the red tape.
Upshur County Schools received grants to start their Comfort Closets back in 2019, but the closets were being set up right when the pandemic hit. So following Covid-19, many students will be returning to school after family members have lost jobs, after they have been relocated to live with relatives, or after families have struggled with just obtaining daily essentials.
Generally, many kids find it hard to focus in the classroom, but when they arrive at school still hungry because there wasn’t enough food to go around the table at breakfast or cold from the lack of clothing, it can make focusing that much harder. Educational professionals often pay for items for their students out of their own pockets, so the Comfort Closets are a wonderful means of relief for all concerned.
“This is a huge deal for our families. We all can remember how important it was to us as a pre-teens or teens to fit in, so this matters,” said Jones.
“Not all of our students have the means to go out and shop to get things they need just to get through to school. When those kids come through and we see that, we try to grab them and get them what they need to try and avoid them sticking out, so there aren’t other issues, like bullying,” McDaniels explained.
Consequently, Shoe Sensation saw a real need in the community and wanted to do their part to help the students and families of Upshur County. Customers were given the opportunity to purchase items to donate alongside residents and churches who made monetary donations. The employees at Shoe Sensation were fortunately given the opportunity to give back to their community.
“I see it, on a daily basis, that children are in need and it’s not just your typical first grader or kindergartener, it ranges all the way up to the high school years. When we decided to do this project, we decided let’s go big or go home, and so we were able to supply for probably two elementary schools—Tennerton and Hodgesville—and definitely the middle school and the high school,” said Store Manager Genevia Jenkins. “It was definitely beyond what we were thinking the response would be, but it’s been amazing. Working for a company like Shoe Sensation, that gives us that power to give back, is an amazing thing.”
The donations were well over $3,000 and included items like, shoes, socks, hygiene products, clothing, and even backpacks. Comfort Closets are a “no strings attached” system used by school counselors to help students in need.
“On behalf of Shoe Sensation, we just want to give a giant heartfelt ‘Thank You’ to all of our donors,” expressed Jenkins. “We have such wonderful counselors in our schools and they really have a passion to help students.”