A closet full of free clothing and supplies is helping thousands of students in Duval County.
The Giving Closet opened its first in-school location at Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary School, with the help of Community First Cares.
Teacher and Co-Founder Annie Raynor said she’s had too many children come through her classroom without necessities like clothing and supplies.
"They come to school with big tears in their pants, holes in their shirts. Things that are too small or too big,” Raynor said.
According to Raynor, there are 2,700 homeless students in Duval County and 700 in St. Johns County.
In 2016, she founded The Giving Closet with friend and fellow teacher Jennifer Smith.
“We’ve laundered close to 50,000 (pieces of) unclaimed clothing and lunch boxes from lost and founds all over Jacksonville,” Smith tells Action News Jax.
The pair said this is the organization’s first in-school location and it will serve students all over the area.
Teachers, counselors, and social workers fill out referral forms for students, then volunteers fill the orders with the supplies.
Social workers are already shopping for students at the new location.
“By January, we will be opening a Giving Closet at Webster in St. Johns County and we plan to get into some other full-service schools here in Jacksonville,” Smith said.
According to the founders, the closet helped 1,000 students last year. They’re hoping the new location will allow them to increase the number to 5,000 students this year.
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