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Mercer Supports Keystone Charter School's Keystone Closet

Tags: Mercer
August 05, 2021 12:00 AM
By: DOC Staff

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SCI Mercer's inmate organization raised $3,000 as part of a hygiene item fundraiser for the Keystone Charter School's "Keystone Closet."

Anna Wilkinson, court liaison for Keystone, was on hand to accept the donation and said the funds will help the agency provide clean clothes, hygiene items, and laundry services to students.

"I had no idea you would raise that much! It is going to be so helpful in meeting these kid's needs. The Keystone Charter School educates students from every school district in Mercer County. These are the students who benefit from the Keystone Closet!"

SCI Mercer staff present Keystone Education Center staff with a check

Keystone staff realized after they started offering these services that student  attendance increased dramatically. The kids had more self-confidence and success in school. "Students don't want to smell and look dirty," Wilkinson said. "They were so worried about how they looked and smelled that academic subjects weren't a focus. Our goal is to reduce barriers that limit their academic focus. The Keystone Closet is also a very valuable tool in teaching empathy and kindness."

Students are encouraged to help those who are too embarrassed or proud to ask for help by requesting a goody bag from the Keystone Closet be placed anonymously in the student's locker, so that the person receiving help does have to ask for help on their own.

"We love to foster the idea of taking care of one another," Wilkinson said. "Also, keeping with the educational theme, we were able to teach students basic hygiene and how to wash and dry clothes and properly bathe and keep themselves clean and healthy."

Staff at Mercer also conducted a donation drive in the winter to support Keystone, helping to fill the Keystone Closet with clothing, snacks, hygiene products and detergent. Superintendent's Assistant Franz and Captain Phillips delivered the donations to Keystone in February. They were able to tour the facility—a place where Captain Phillips had volunteered at for many years.

The excitement was obvious on the students' faces as they made trip after trip unloading the donations. Wilkinson followed up several month later and said, "I wanted to tell you thank you again for all of the donations. The items are almost gone and were welcomed by so many students! I have one girl who almost cried when I gave her a roll of quarters and a bottle of laundry detergent because she had been paying someone to do her laundry because she didn't have enough money for laundromat and soap. She was so happy to be able to go herself and take care of her own needs! Please make sure that all of your staff know how much our students appreciated their generosity. Some of the soda and chips were used to host a luncheon for students who made the honor roll or achieved perfect attendance for the first semester. It was a great help!"

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