ARLEE — When Montana’s Office of Public Instruction made available a grant to support homeless students, Arlee staff member Anna Baldwin knew she needed to take action.
Currently, 20% of Arlee’s student body is considered homeless, that’s about 45 students in total.
That means that for many of the kids, necessities like winter coats, food, and hygiene items are few and far between.
With the grant Baldwin received for Arlee School District, she was able to create what she’s calling “Cache Closet,” a school room stocked with basic necessities.
“This Cache Closet is really a type of wrap around service that we can do some outreach in the community and help support some folks so that we can build a stronger community,” said Baldwin.
In addition to the grant, community members have donated supplies for the closet, expanding its reach to students that aren’t considered homeless, but can still use a little help.
For public educators, the primary job is always to provide instruction, but Baldwin said they’re doing much more than that through this initiative.
“We provide counseling, sometimes social and emotional support for kids," Baldwin said. "We provide, as a school district, here we provide wrap around services, and in some form."
Baldwin said anyone in need is welcome to use the closet free of judgment.
Arlee is currently accepting donations to the Cache Closet and will take gently used or new clothing, non-perishable food items, hygiene products and school supplies.