At this high school, homeless students can get everything they need—in the janitor’s closet

December 23, 2017 6:16 pm Last Updated: December 23, 2017 6:16 pm

Schools do everything they can to make sure a student gets the best education possible—but there are some things that are beyond their control. A difficult home life, or inadequate access to basic resources and supplies, can severely hurt a young person’s education. When you’re just fighting to survive, studying isn’t a priority.

More than a few students at Tucker High School in Georgia suffer from this problem—many of whom are homeless and struggling. But now, they can get all the supplies they need—in the most unlikely of places:

The janitor’s closet.

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Carolyn Collins, the school’s custodian, is on a mission to give her kids everything they need to survive. For the past three years, she’s run a “Care Closet” in the corner of the cafeteria.

The closet is stocked with all sorts of supplies, most of which came from Collins herself out of her own pocket. It’s a labor of love from a custodian who wants to see these students succeed.

“These are our babies,” Collins told WXIA.

“They just want to learn. I just want to take care of them. Some of them sleeping in cars, some in hotels.”

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Items include school supplies:

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Canned food:

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Clothing:

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And plenty of other essentials, like soap and deodorant.

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But it’s a deeply personal cause for Collins—who has, tragically, seen first-hand what happens to kids when they’re desperate for food and clothing.

Her own son was killed during a home invasion. While it was devastating, she understood that the homelessness was the underlying cause for the violent crime.

“I’m just trying to get our young boys from stealing and killing,” she said. “I’m trying to give ’em all they need in this closet.”

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She also knows that there’s a shame felt by people in need, and that many students who could use the Care Closet might be reluctant to take advantage of its resources.

But she’s called on her fellow faculty members to be her eyes and ears—to see if they suspect any problems going on at home.

“There’s probably more of them, but a lot of kids don’t say anything,” Collins said of the students.

According to the National Center for Homeless Education 2016 Publication “Federal Data Summary” over one million youth were homeless aged 3–5 and all grades through the 12th grade. And these numbers have only been going up in  recent years.

“I tell the teachers a lot, ‘If you see a child with their head down, the same clothes on day after day, let me know.'”

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She hopes more students will continue to use her supply closet whenever they need something—and hopes that it sends a greater message, that someone will always be there for them.

‘I’m doing something for the kids every day,” Collins told WXIA.

“Every day. It’s part of my job.”

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