DELAVAN — The Delavan-Darien School District is expanding its donation-driven Comet Care Center to better serve middle and elementary school students.
For years, Delavan-Darien High School has hosted a Comet Care Center to support mostly high school students, but no coordinated effort was in place to serve preschool through middle school students, said Mike Heine, Coordinator of School/Community Relations.
“We certainly have a number of families and students need in our school community and this new center will be a better way to get help to those who need it,” Heine said. “We’re excited to see it begin in the coming weeks.”
New Phoenix Middle School Counselor Steve Gross had the idea when he found a number of used coats and jackets in his office upon starting in the district this fall.
“It just made sense to provide a better service to our students and families in need,” said Gross, who plans to seek donations from area businesses. “I know our elementary schools are tight on storage space and we had some available rooms here at Phoenix to really put together a bigger, and better district-wide service center.”
The Comet Care Center provides donated materials free of charge to students and district families in need, including such items as toiletries, jackets and clothing items, and school supplies. All materials in the Comet Care Center are donated to the district. Families can express their need to any school’s main office administrators. Often times, staff will notice a student’s need and provide the items they can as quickly as possible.
“We have had students needing to shower in our school in the morning because hot water is not available in their home,” said Phoenix Principal Hank Schmelz. “Students have come in this fall without coats because they have no winter coat. We try to get them one. That’s the reality in this community. There is definitely a need in our community and we’re happy to expand this opportunity for assistance.”
The district has about 70 percent of its approximately 2,400 students qualifying for the income-based federal free and reduced lunch program. In the first quarter of this year, 66 students have been identified as being homeless (living at a non-stable residence such as shelters, motels, with friends/family, in cars, etc.).
“We know that having essential school supplies and essential life supplies are essential for learning,” Gross said. “This expanded Comet Care Center is a great way to see our students and community members find success in the classroom and in life.”
The Comet Care Center at DDHS was started by former school counselor Nancy Hollinger. The late DDHS business teacher Carrie Schuknecht took over and helped grow the high school’s program, which is now overseen by English teacher Sara Terrill.
The DDHS program will remain running as is, with items meant for elementary and middle school students being housed at Phoenix Middle School, Gross said.
The best time to drop off donations is between 10:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. on Fridays during the school year. However, items can be donated in the Phoenix Middle School main office at any time during school hours.
Donations for the DDHS Comet Care Center can be made at the school’s main office during school hours.
For more information about the Comet Care Center, contact Mike Heine at 262-728-2642 ext. 4813.
Items sought for the Comet Care Center
Toothbrush, Toothpaste, Dental floss, Shaving cream, Deodorant, Bar of soap, Shampoo, Conditioner, Lice shampoo, Hand cream, Comb, Mouthwash (Alcohol free), Shampoo/Conditioner, Toilet paper, Antibacterial soap (small containers), Lip balm, Body soap, Lotion, Earplugs, Reading glasses, Kleenex, Q-tips, Sunblock, ChapStick, feminine napkins, Baby wipes, Nail products.
Hats, Shoes, Short sleeve t-Shirts, Long , Coats, Pants, Shirts, Sweatshirts, Dress Shirts, Ties, Dresses, Underwear, Socks, Thermal underwear (long johns).
Mittens, Gloves, Scarves, Hats, Coats, Snow Pants, Winter boots.
Folders, Notebooks, Pens/Pencils, Erasers, Frisbees, Journals, “Stress Balls”, Paper, Binders, School bags/Backpacks, Markers/Crayons, Trapper Keeper.
Laundry detergent/dryer sheets, Dish soap, Paper plates/plastic utensils, Cleaning supplies, Stuffed animals.