A program that provides students at John F. Kennedy High School with free personal hygiene products started after a truancy officer Raquel Amador contacted student about her unexplained absence from class last year.
It turned out the student wanted to be in school, but she girl had to go home when her menstrual cycle began and she didn’t have any sanitary napkins to keep herself clean. Amador launched what has become a “Confidence Closets” initiative that gives both male and female students a wide variety of personal hygiene products with no questions asked.
“When students aren’t confident in their personal hygiene, they simply don’t come to school,” said Schools Superintendent Eileen Shafer. “And that has a devastating impact on their academics and their aspirations for future success.”
What’s more, education officials have announced a major donation from Colgate Palmolive that will provide 28,500 products — including toothbrushes, toothpaste, body wash, and soap — which will be used to stock similar programs at other Paterson schools. But where to stock the products en route to the schools? Pastor Matt Andersen, one of the clergy members involved in the Confidence Closet effort, came to the rescue.
He connected the district with Grace Redeemer Church in Glen Rock, which had warehouse space available. Clergy participants have collected 2,500 hygiene products for Confidence Closets, he said.
“Quite literally the Lord is multiplying our ‘loaves and fishes’ through donations from companies like Colgate Palmolive,” Andersen said. “However, the need is still great as we continue to push to set up Confidence Closets at all 33 district locations. The greatest need is for deodorant and feminine hygiene products.”
Items may be donated at the Paterson Public Schools Central Office Building at 90 Delaware Ave. in Paterson.
Monetary donations to the Confidence Closets initiative can be made by check to:
The Fund for Paterson Public Schools
90 Delaware Ave., Paterson, NJ 07503
Write “Confidence Closets” in the memo of the check.