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Rogers Park School’s ‘Care Closet’ Provides Winter Essentials So Kids Can Come To Class 

Teachers at Gale Community Academy are collecting winter clothes, hygiene products and other essentials for students so they focus on learning.

Gale Community Academy, 7650 N. Marshfield Ave., offers a place students can go to grab free winter gear, changes of clothes and personal hygiene products.
Provided//Gale Elementary School
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ROGERS PARK — Gale Community Academy is accepting donations for its Care Closet, a resource for students who need winter clothing, hygiene products and formal wear. 

School-conducted surveys since 2019 have shown low attendance was one of the biggest challenges elementary students faced when completing their education. Some kids don’t have the winter clothing needed to commute to school — and others have reported being bullied for wearing dirty or ill-fitting clothes, which made them more likely to say home, school leaders said. 

To help, a few teachers banded together in 2021 to create the Care Closet, a collection of essentials students can take for free. They began collecting gently used items from their home and buying hygiene products, and they invited their friends and family members to do the same. 

People can drop off donations 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Thursday at the school’s annex, 7650 N. Marshfield Ave., door 1 For more information, contact Maria Melendez here.

“It’s an important resource for students to have because our school is in a high-need area, and some of them don’t have the things they need, like hats and gloves and coats, so we provide those things for them,” said Napoleon Smith, a school staff member. 

More than 30 students regularly stop by to pick up deodorant, winter coats, boots and formal outfits for special events. 

“They’re really appreciative,” Smith said. “Sometimes they come in with coats worn out and tattered and are just so happy to have a new coat to wear. The students are definitely impacted by this, and it just shows on their faces.” 

Nearly all of Gale’s students need something from the closet at one point, whether they’ve spilled something, torn their clothing playing or had a bathroom accident. 

This time of year, the Care Closet needs children’s winter gear, including coats, boots, gloves, scarves and hats, Smith said. There’s always a need for socks and underwear. All items should be clean and free of stains or tears. 

You can also donate unopened personal hygiene products, formal clothing and laundry detergent.

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