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Elementary School Opens a Free Store for Families in Need

By Vickie Vértiz
The staff at Mildred Dalton Henry Elementary know the strengths of their bright students, and they also know some of the difficulties their families face this, and every season.
“We were talking to the school board president (Mike Gallo) and he said another district did a district-wide closet,” fifth-grade teacher Dorothy Daft told the San Bernardino County Sun.
The elementary school has been open for two years and is located in a region of San Bernardino where “99.1 percent of Henry students qualify for the federal free and reduced meals program, according to the California Department of Education,” said the Sun. The school believes one of its missions is to serve that community as well as the students, according to a statement Principal Marcus Funchess made to the Sun.
“We’re here to serve, we’re here to help, we’re here to support,” he told the paper.
At the beginning of December, school staff began collecting “clothes, books and toys to distribute through the new Henry Exchange Closet,” the paper reported.
“We have books, I have a whole bag of Playstation 2 games,” Daft told the Sun.
The closet will open its doors to families the first time on December 17th, but the store is more than a holiday event. Due to the high financial need of the neighborhood, Funchess believes that the closet will be opened up several times a year.
“That [is] an initial start,” the Sun quotes him. “We’ll look and see how we can ramp up.”
The current goal for the closet is to have sufficient toys, either new or barely used, to make a difference for the families and students during the approaching holidays.
“I hope at least two to five kids from each class get something,” Daft said. According to the Sun, that would mean 26 to 65 students would receive gifts in total.
The school is making it a habit to support the neighborhood where it resides. The school also offers English as a Second Language and Zumba classes for adults, since the community requested it.
“We said we [were] going to treat parents as partners and get them involved in a number of ways,” Funchess told the Sun. “When we say ‘parent involvement,’ we want it to be things they need, not what we say they need.”
The Henry Exchange Closet will give out clothes, toys, books, and other goods to members of their neighborhood on Tuesday, December 17, beginning at 1:30 p.m., after the school day ends.
To help make sure all of the students of Henry Elementary get a holiday gift, donate goods to the closet by calling 909-888-2353.

Teacher Dorothy Daft with donated goods - Courtesy Photo
Teacher Dorothy Daft with donated goods – Courtesy Photo

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