Local service club helping students get a fresh start at school

Academea Club donates washer and dryer to Kalkaska High School to help students in need.

KALKASKA COUNTY, Mich. (WPBN/WGTU) -- Students have enough to worry about with tests and homework, so the last thing they need to worry about is having clean clothes.

Academea Club of Kalkaska decided to buy a brand new washer and dryer to Kalkaska High School to alleviate the problem for needy kids.

"If it means they are less bullied, and it means they have clean clothes, then that's our hope," said Valerie Thornburg, president of Academea Club.

The all women's service club holds a couple big fundraisers throughout the year and then finds a need in the community to use it towards.

While deciding how to use the money from October's silent auction, Thornburg saw a story on Facebook about a high school in Newark, New Jersey.

"The principal there did a deep dive into why they were having so many kids bullied and not showing up to school, and come to find out some of the kids were wearing the same clothes each day," said Thornburg. "So that principal came up with the idea to put in washer and dryers."

After running the idea by the other 16 women in the club, they reached out to the Kalkaska High School principal who told them they did have students without access to a washer and dryer.

Not anymore; for less than $1,000 the Academea Club was able to buy a washer, dryer, hoses, and a three-year warranty from The Home Depot.

Now, under adult supervision, students can start and end their day with clean clothes.

“They bring them [the dirty clothes] to school, we take those clothes, give them fresh clothes, and make arrangements to start doing laundry," says Kalkaska High School Principal Chuck Sorentino.

With clean clothes the principal said it's easier for students to focus on academics and other parts of school.

“The social part is really important, too," said Sorentino. "Because you’re not spending that psychological energy on those issues, you’re able to devote part of that energy towards doing your schoolwork."

The need for clean clothes isn't just a problem for students, it's a community wide need.

“If you go to the laundromat like my wife, she can can tell you the cost on that is expensive,” said Kalkaska resident Keith Sutton.

Sutton is just one of 1,300 people who have turned to Kalkaska Area Interfaith Resources [KAIR] for food and other necessities the past couple months.

A lot of families come here [KAIR]," said Cathy Somes, Director of KAIR. "They’re in need of laundry detergent which we don't always have to provide to them because we are based on donations, and I think it's a struggle for people to go to the laundry mat or wash clothes at home so I think this will be a huge benefit for Kalkaska County.”

The Academea Club also donated bags for the students to carry their dirty clothes in, as well as laundry detergent, dryer sheets, and other laundry items.

If you would like to donate you can drop off items to the main office at Kalkaska High School.

The school also has a "Teen Pantry" which provides food, clothes, and toiletries to students in need.

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