Caring Closet of Mitchell making a big impact on students in need

The Caring Closet of Mitchell.
The Caring Closet of Mitchell.(Jodi Reiners)
Published: Jul. 20, 2021 at 1:16 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - A volunteer-run program in Mitchell has taken off, and is making a big impact on the community.

It’s called the Caring Closet of Mitchell.

Just a few years ago Katie Murphy noticed a big need for some of her students at Mitchell High School.

“We saw students coming to school not properly dressed for the weather,” Murphy, who is a Spanish teacher, said. “(They were) riding their bike without a winter coat, wearing no hat, no gloves, other students waiting for the bus in nothing but a sweatshirt, and skipping school because it was too cold to wait for that bus.”

So, she stepped up, purchasing coats to hand out herself, as well as helping to organize a shoe and coat drive.

Those events turned into the beginnings of the Caring Closet.

“This closet has grown and grown to the point where it is now three full closets, and instead of just coats and a few things here and there, it has every item these kids could need,” Murphy said.

Since then, Murphy has turned over the program to Jodi Reiners, who works full-time on top of her commitment to the closet.

“The need is much larger here in Mitchell than most people realize,” Reiners, who is the coordinator for the Caring Closet, said. “It’s great to have this sort of resource for the teachers so all they have to focus on is giving out the items to the students.”

Ran entirely through volunteers and donations, the Caring Closet provides clothes and supplies for students, kindergarten through 12th grade.

“There are a lot of times where we just take for granted what we are going to wear in the morning, or how we are going to prepare for work or school, and things like that,” Mitchell High School Principal Joe Childs said. “But we do have a number of students who may not have exactly what they need to navigate a full week of school.”

For seniors, there is even a special program dedicated to making sure they have a cap and gown for graduation.

“As a senior myself, I can’t imagine not having that stuff, so being able to donate a memory like that, that they could possibly keep forever, is absolutely amazing,” Kara McGee, a Mitchell High School Senior and Caring Closet Volunteer, said.

Just last year, the Caring Closet helped hundreds of students. And, with a new school year on the horizon, it is expected to make a difference for many more.

“There is nothing wrong with getting help, that’s what this is here for,” Reiners said. “Everybody needs help at some point in their life, so if you’re the person that needs helps, reach out, ask any school staff member, and you can be helped.”

For more information about the Caring Closet of Mitchell, click here.

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