Donation closet for students opens at Suffolk Elementary School


SUFFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – A local elementary school is helping to ease the burden some students face, by opening a donation closet.

Mack Ben Jr. Elementary School opened “The Vault” last Friday. It allows students to come in and pick out clothes or toiletries they need for the day.

“Some behaviors I was seeing , what I realized after talking to my children, was they were ashamed with what they were wearing. Last year, my first couple of weeks here after Christmas break, some kids came back with nothing new. Others came back with new Jordans,” said Dean of Students Melissa Zawodny.

School counselor Kandace Taylor-Tysinger says she also noticed that many kids were embarrassed by having to change after accidents at school. So, she approached Zawodny, who had a similar idea, and “The Vault” was born.

“The Vault stands for valuing and uplifting lives together,” said Taylor-Tysinger.

It includes clothes, such as jeans, shirts, sweaters, jackets, shoes and belts. There are also toiletries. There is a dressing room in the center and students come and select items.

Zawdowny says she can see the students’ gratitude on their faces.

“They have confidence in themselves and have a better attitude because we keep it confidential and quiet. No one knows that it’s happening,” she said.

Taylor-Tysinger says they’re doing this because they love their students and want them to leave feeling appreciated.

“Proud and confident and that we love them. We’ll do anything for them to make sure they’re successful learners and citizens for the community,” she said.

Taylor-Tysinger, Zawodny, and the school’s principal are all products of Suffolk Public Schools and supplying these basic needs is giving back to the district they love so much.

“As long as we can make their basic needs met, research shows everything else will fall in place,” said Zawodny.

The school says many helped them with the project, including Shade O Sheet Metal, Chris Jones from Bennett’s Creek Pharmacy, Revival Church, King and Queen Cleaning and East End Baptist Church.

If you would like to donate clothes, they can be dropped off at the school.

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