The Poynette School District is making sure that students have everything they need while at school, and at home.

The Puma Locker recently opened at Poynette High School — a room that was converted from a conference room. It’s full of donated items like shirts, jackets, backpacks, hats, shoes, other clothing and more. It has a limited selection of each. Various personal hygiene products are also available to help any middle or high schooler in the district who may be struggling, and not have proper access to basic items, amid the COVID-19 pandemic. All items are free of charge to students and families.

“Our goal as a district is to meet student and family needs,” said David Fisher, the district’s Director of Student Services. “In order for students to be successful in the classroom and learning, they need to have their basic needs met. We hope that the Puma Locker will allow students to feel more comfortable and confident at school.”

For those students who need help, the district tries to stay discreet through the process.

“Most have come in as referrals from the counselor or the social worker,” Fisher said. “The district’s goal was to create something that would get kids what they need, while doing it in a respectful manner.”

Fisher said that shortly after the Puma Locker was up and running by Mid-March, it was already being accessed by various students. Poynette middle and high school students who need those basic items can browse the Puma Locker and take the necessary clothing and/or personal hygiene items. There has been very positive initial feedback from those who have already used the Puma Locker.

Fisher said that Makenzie Hamer, the district’s social worker played a very important role in getting the Puma Locker started. Hamer was familiar with similar projects in other districts and was one who suggested that the Poynette district look into creating something like it to further support its students.

Fisher said that in addition to the referrals, small fliers for the Puma Locker are also placed in the backpacks of children who utilize the Blessings in a Backpack program as a means to let those families know that this new project exists.

Fisher noted that as soon as the district knew it wanted to begin the service, donations began coming in.

“A project like this happens because Poynette is a caring community,” Fisher said. “It was not difficult to get clothing and monetary donations to make this happen.”

If students or families would like to visit the Puma Locker, they should contact Makenzie Hamer for an appointment at mhame@poynette.k12.wi.us or at 608-635-4347 Ext. 448. Students may visit before, after, or during school hours as well, and parents and/or guardians are welcome, too.

If you would like to make a donation to the Puma Locker, you can contact Hamer or anyone within the district administrative staff. Any gently used items that are appropriate for middle- or high school-aged children are accepted.

“As you grow older, what you wear becomes your identity,” Fisher said.

Donations of personal hygiene products are accepted as well. Donations can also be specific to sports, such as if a child needs a baseball glove or cleats.

Fisher noted that monetary donations are helpful so that the district can stock up on certain sizes that are asked for that are not currently in the Puma Locker. Currently, the items most needed are men’s and women’s tennis shoes, and athletic wear (sweatshirts, sweatpants and shorts) of various sizes.

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