When a student needs sweat clothes or tennis shoes for PE, school supplies, a jacket, or even a backpack for school, KIND is there to help fill that need.
Kids In NeeD (KIND) is an organization created at Oakdale Junior High School to help students whose families can’t afford to provide them with certain necessities that help students be successful in school.
KIND organizer and OJHS teacher Micki Dias explained that at the beginning of each school year, the students are notified that help is available and the students can tell a trusted teacher or staff member what they need. Many students will just go to the office and tell the staff that their parents can’t afford something they need for school, she said. Then the nurse or health clerk confirms that there is actual need and that the family qualifies.
“We had one girl who needed glasses,” Dias relayed of one student’s story. “(Her parents) didn’t have insurance but made just a little more money than what it is to qualify. We made the co-pay and another donor picked up the rest of the tab.”
Dias added that it helped the girl in the classroom and her headaches, likely due to eyestrain, subsided.
In order to help add to KIND’s coffers, some staff members have reached into their own pockets, and donations collected at a nearly-annual basketball game between staff members and the eighth grade basketball teams have also helped.
This year, the KIND basketball game fundraiser is slated for Tuesday, March 15 at 7 p.m. in the school gym. Admission is $3 for adults and $2 for students and additional donations will be gladly accepted. Dias said they hope to raise at least $300 to help fund the program.
The game will be divided into two seven-minute halves. Female staff members will play the eighth grade girls basketball team and the male staff members will go up against the eighth grade boys basketball team. There will also be a “mini me” halftime show where staff members will bring their children who are six years old or younger to play basketball and dressed as their parent.
Some of the most commonly needed items are notebooks, pencils, hand pencil sharpeners, pocket staplers, and occasionally, there are out-of-the-ordinary needs.
“We gave a student a bike once because he was walking from the other side of town – his bike had been stolen,” Dias recalled of another student helped by the program.
She added that an important facet of the program is that the items are provided to the students anonymously.
“They don’t know where it comes from,” Dias said. “They’re called into the office and told something like, ‘this was brought for you,’ or, ‘someone dropped this off for you.’ Their peers do not know, it’s kept very low key… This could be any of us at any time (to be in need). We don’t want other kids to know. We want them to feel comfortable.”
She added that KIND benefits students directly at the junior high school.