Kindness Corner expands againFebruary 11, 2020
By LEANN BURKE
JASPER — For struggling teen parents, managing school and raising a child is hard.
To help, Jasper High School teacher Abby Kennedy founded Kindness Corner — a place at the school where teen parents can discreetly receive donated items their children need so they can stay in school. The program is organized and run by Kennedy and student volunteers and has gotten quite a bit of use since it opened in 2017. Now, after one expansion in 2018, it’s expanding again.
This week, student volunteers will be moving the supply of maternity clothes, baby and toddler clothes, and other items to a larger room. Also recently, three students from Josh Dahmer’s construction class completed a donation box for Kindness Corner that sits behind the school near the band and pool entrance.
Hopefully, the additions and growth will let the Kindness Corner help more students, something volunteer Addison Hildenbrand said is needed.
“A lot of times, girls get pregnant unexpectedly and think they can handle it,” Hildenbrand said. “Then they discover they can’t do it alone because they’re age 15 to 18 without a job. They need help.”
Addison, who is a sophomore, recently got involved with the Kindness Corner when Kennedy asked for volunteers in a study hall since several of the previous volunteers graduated. Although she’s only been helping out a few months, Addison has already helped a few of her peers get clothing for a child.
For the team who built the drop box — sophomore Jordan Krempp and seniors Sterling Kiefer and John Summerlot — the project gave them a chance to use their construction skills to help out. None of them had heard of Kindness Corner before Dahmer tagged them for the project, but they were still eager to get to work.
“It was something where we knew what we were doing and knew we could do it the right way,” John said.
The three boys have taken construction classes in the past, and Jordan worked in construction over the summer. To begin, the students put together a plan and an estimate that they gave to Kennedy so she could apply for a grant from the Jasper High School Class of 1966 Endowment, which provides classroom teacher grants at JHS. Once the funding was secured, they ordered the materials and got to work, beginning construction just before Thanksgiving and finishing up as school was winding down for Christmas. The box was placed outside the school earlier this month.
This week, with all the rain, Jordan has been going out to check on the drop box during free time in Kennedy’s class.
“I wanted to make sure we didn’t have any holes anywhere in it,” he explained.
So far, it’s stayed dry.
As the Kindness Corner continues to grow, the hope is to reach more teen parents in need and to help them finish high school. Addison said she believes it can be a big help for students because it saves them some money as they try to figure out how to pay for day care and other childcare costs while attending school. It’s an activity she’s happy to be part of.
“I enjoy that we are able to help teen moms and dads,” she said. “They can come down, and we can help them get the sizes and things they need. We even ask what style they want and try to get that.”
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