This thoughtful project from 5th grade teacher Mrs. Burnette has gone DonorsChoose-viral:
"I want my students to feel safe at school. Part of that is providing them with items they may need in [a pinch].
If a girl starts her cycle at school, I want her to know she can come grab what she needs from the SOS bin.
If a boy is dealing with body odor, I want him to know I have what he needs.
If their hair tie broke, they misplaced their mask, they forgot to brush their teeth, they have a stain on their shirt, or chapped lips...I want to make sure they feel comfortable, safe, and provided for at school while they are away from home.
This will also prevent having to call parents to leave jobs and come bring needed items to school."
Teachers across the country are creating projects for their own “Essentials Closet”, “Self-care Station”, or “SOS Bin” – a stash of little, everyday necessities that could un-ruin a school day instantly.
Here are 7 items to kick off or add to your supply drawer:
The one thing most DonorsChoose projects for middle- and high-school essentials kits have in common? Antiperspirant. High school teacher Ms. Bukowski made this observation:
“While many people may think that this is just a project for deodorant, it truly is not. This project will work towards improving social and emotional psyche as well as improving the cleanliness of our whole student body.”
Being able to grab an extra deodorant after a particularly active gym class or for normal daily hygiene can reduce stigma and scent.
2. Hair ties (and more hair ties)
Mrs. Mishima-Donahue is attempting to solve one of the world’s greatest mysteries: where do all the hair ties go? From her fully-funded project:
“My students need items to keep their hair out of their faces and in good condition. Many of my students ask for hair ties because they don't have any at home. I have a small bag in case of emergencies, but this year, I've gone through so many. The brushes and combs will allow them to keep their hair knot free, while hair ties and clips will keep their hair out of their faces.”
A simple $200 project secured 10 hair brushes, 48 combs, 250 hair elastics, 100 barrettes, and more for Mrs. Mishima-Donahue’s students.
3. Toothbrushes and floss
Kids in all grades may need help with access to oral hygiene products. Ms. Denise knows that oral health can bring ‘positive results and invaluable rewards’:
“Hygiene is such an important matter and it can be a source of embarrassment for students whose families struggle to cover the cost of necessities such as toothpaste, toothbrushes, and floss. Help me remove barriers for students so they can unlock all their educational potential!”
Add toothbrushes, travel-size toothpastes, mints, dental flossers, and chapsticks to your cart so your students can breathe a little easier.
4. Feminine hygiene products
Access to feminine hygiene products, especially during those critical (and often confusing!) middle-school years can have a real impact on attendance rates, positive social engagement, and feelings of self confidence. Ms. Bare’s ‘Menstruation Station’ gives all menstruating teens at her school access to these critical supplies, privately:
“We need a place where any student, at any time during the school day, can get the menstrual products that she needs so that she does not have to feel stressed or miss class time. I want to create a menstruation station in my lab supply room so that students can confidentially obtain the sanitary supplies that they need.
Sanitary products including pads, tampons, liners, and flushable wipes are a must for those mid- and older-grade essentials closets.
5. Stain remover towelettes
A snacktime or lunch hour incident can be just a momentary glitch in a day if you have the right clean-up supplies on hand. Take it from Mrs. Krieger, the niceties can be necessities:
“It's difficult for students to focus on school when they have other worries on their mind. If we can make their lives a little less stressful by supplying these basic needs and goodies, then it's been a good day.”
Lint rollers, bandaids, eyeglass repair kits, and safety pins can save a student from an unnecessarily tough day, too!
Ms. Sherman recognizes that she can’t expect her students to focus on learning when so many of their basic needs aren’t being met. An extra supply of socks and emergency clothing items can save students from discomfort and embarrassment.
“Our students come to school with problems they bring from home. We can’t fix those, but we can give them a safe, clean place to learn. We can temporarily supply them with clothing and personal hygiene items so that they don’t have to worry about being ridiculed by their peers or being ostracized.”
7. Stress balls
Ms. Posluszny’s SOS Cabinet includes mental health resources as well:
“It goes without saying that 12 year olds face daily struggles and emotional challenges that can without a doubt throw them for a loop or anger them, and could benefit from the ability to pick up a stress ball and decompress while sitting in class. I want students to feel safe and comfortable in my classroom and know that while learning is important, their social and emotional needs are equally as essential.”
Stickers, squishy balls, and fidget toys are ‘essentials’ for some students, too!
The Ultimate SOS Bin
Check out Ms. Sims’s project Self-Serve Self-Care Station for Junior High Students in the Library to see all of these items rolled up into one full-service resource.
We’re inspired! Are you? Start your own project today for the little items that make the biggest difference in your students’ day!