Willink students practice important life skills while giving back to the community

12 May

Every school year, hundreds of lost and found items are left behind by students, and despite the schools’ best efforts, most are never claimed. So what can be done with the mounds of abandoned coats, gloves, hats, shirts, water bottles and lunch boxes?

Cori Horn’s 12:1:4 functional life skills class at Willink Middle School has come up with a perfect, win/win solution. Two times a year, Cori and her students launder, sort, fold and pack countless items collected from nine schools, then deliver them all to Webster HOPE on East Ridge Rd.

Cori came up with the project a few years ago, after noticing the large number of lost and found items collecting at her school.

“When we saw how much stuff Willink had,” she said, “I thought, I’m sure all the other schools probably have a lot, too. It would be great for all of it to go back to the Webster community.” She researched clothing closets in Webster, learned about Webster HOPE, and then proposed her idea to every other school in the district. Eight other buildings responded and offered their lost and found items to the cause.

The project is a perfect way for the students to practice the basic life skills they need as they work towards independent living, while also teaching them patience and perseverance.

As the items are collected, the students first sort them based on clothing type and whether they’re for boys or girls. Then they wash and fold the items, pair up the gloves, zip up the jackets and match the tops to the water bottles. Finally, they place the items in the correct boxes. Even prepping a new box required life skills, like looking closely at the picture on the label, peeling the tape and attaching it to the box. The repetitive nature of all the tasks is especially beneficial.

Each student works on every aspect of the project, giving them a great sense of accomplishment for contributing to something important.

This is the second time this school year that the students have completed the ambitious lost and found project. Last December they packed and delivered 38 boxes to Webster HOPE. This spring they almost doubled that haul, collecting 64 boxes filled with hats, gloves, snow pants, sweatshirts, jackets, water bottles, lunch boxes, and even Halloween costumes. Earlier this week, they packed them all into two SUVs and then Cori delivered them all to Webster HOPE. There, a small army of very grateful volunteers helped unload them to be stored until they can be distributed to the agency’s clients.

Webster HOPE director Margery Morgan couldn’t say enough good things about the students’ work.

“It’s wonderful,” she said. “They wash it, they label it, it’s packed up unbelievably well, already presorted. Sixty-four boxes of name-brand, top-of-the-line clothing. We’re delighted.”

Margery was especially grateful for the snow pants, which she called “a huge item for us.”

“A lot of kids in Webster can’t go outside at playtime if they don’t have snow pants, so they have to stay in the library. A lot of our families can’t afford snow pants, so those are gold to us.” She felt the same way about the lunch boxes. Most of the children they serve get free lunch at school, so they don’t have lunch boxes for summer camp. The dozens of clean, colorful lunch boxes will be greatly appreciated by the families HOPE serves.

A project like this benefits every person and every place it touches, from the students who are learning valuable skills, to our Webster neighbors who benefit from the donations, to the organizer herself.

“I’m so happy that I’m allowed to do this,” Cori said. “It’s a refresh at the end of the school year, a project that’s giving back to the community. … I love doing volunteer work. When we can volunteer and get life skills and curriculum work out if it, it makes me so happy.”

She added that the best part, however, “is when the parents say they notice that the kids are improving, doing the stuff at home.”

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(posted 5/12/2023)

One Response to “Willink students practice important life skills while giving back to the community”

  1. hahimes May 12, 2023 at 7:28 pm #

    What amazing kids!

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