Smile Closet provides Middletown elementary students with ‘essentials’ from local churches

The Smile Closet at Mayfield Elementary in Middletown holds many items that students may need. The closets are furnished by local churches that purchase the items from Walmart and Meijer.

Credit: Submitted photo

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The Smile Closet at Mayfield Elementary in Middletown holds many items that students may need. The closets are furnished by local churches that purchase the items from Walmart and Meijer.

Credit: Submitted photo

Volunteers from two Methodist churches purchase items and store them at six local schools

Two Middletown churches are teaming up to reduce the hurdles some students face at school and home.

Christ United Methodist Church and First Methodist Church received a $9,000 grant from the Middletown Community Foundation recently to provide Smile (Something to Make It a Little Easier) Closets at six local elementary schools.

This is the second year that Christ United received the grant from the MCF and it used the money to serve three schools — Creekview, Central Academy and Mayfield — with “essentials” like hygiene items, clothing, underwear, socks, shoes, school supplies that supplement the Middletown Area Neediest Youth (MANY) purchases, said Dee Sellers, one of the organizers.

She said First United Methodist joined the effort this year so the service area now includes Amanda, Rosa Parks and Wildwood. Church volunteers work with school officials and social workers to identify the needs. Some of the products are purchased at a reduced price from Walmart or Meijer, Sellers said.

The Christ United Methodist volunteers include Judy Crump, Diane McChesney and Sellers. First Church is represented by a women’s church group.

Sellers said the program is important because it’s difficult for young children to be productive students when they don’t have the proper hygiene items and clean clothes.

“When you’re cold, hungry or you have bugs in your hair, you can’t pay attention,” Sellers said. “This shows that the community cares about them.”

Elizabeth Beadle, a spokesperson for the district, said it’s “fortunate to have wonderful relationships with our community, especially our faith community.”

During these “unsettling times,” it is comforting to know the district can always count on its community to give of their time and resources, she said.

It’s also important, Sellers said, to take the message of the church outside the walls and to show “God’s love” in the community.

“This is one way to do that,” she said. “We are like the hands and feet of God on this earth.”

Rosa Parks students also are being provided winter coats, hats and scarfs from Amazon.

The company is delivering 500 of each item to the school at 10 a.m. Monday, the district said. There are about 600 students in grades kindergarten through fifth and all students will receive winter apparel, according to the district. The two Methodist churches will purchase additional items if needed.

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